Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

November 6, 2012

Flu off to quick start in 2012-13

OTTUMWA — The 2012-2013 flu season seems to be off to a faster start than last year, though it is unclear whether that will make for a longer season.

The worst recent season was in 2009, when the H1N1 flu reached epidemic levels in October. The season usually peaks between January and March.

The Centers for Disease Control publishes weekly updates for flu in the United States. The catch is that those figures lag behind the trends. The official numbers come from actual flu tests as reported to federal authorities. The lag is at least a week.

Google attempts to better the federal figures by counting flu-related queries in its search engine. It's not official, but it makes sense. When people feel bad, they look for ways to feel better. One of those ways is by searching for information online. And Google's projections tend to be reasonably accurate.

There is a difference between the two counts. And the data on the CDC website is sometimes contradictory.

The CDC's FluView interactive map shows Iowa with "minimal" activity. But that's not surprising. Only one state, Louisiana, is even shown as having low activity. Another CDC map, one based on the week ending October 27, shows Iowa with "local" flu outbreaks, a higher level than Louisiana's "sporadic" designation.

The Iowa Department of Public Health puts flu activity at the "local" level, also based on data for the week ending October 27.

Google's map also shows Iowa with low flu activity, but puts more states in the higher categories. As with the CDC, Louisiana tops the map with high flu activity. But 21 states fall into Google's moderate category, including three (Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri) that border Iowa.

Google's estimate puts activity ahead of where it was last year, but well below the levels seen in the 2009-2010 flu epidemic. There are echoes of that year, though. The CDC says the most common version of the flu so far this season is Type A, followed by Type B. The H1N1 flu that knocked out so many people three years ago also shows up in the data.

The best recommendations remain the same, regardless of which flu shows up. Get a flu shot. Wash your hands frequently. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. And, if you're unlucky enough to get the flu, stay home and rest.

1
Text Only
CNHI/SE Iowa
  • 0425 OTT eagle stock photo Mahaska Co. man accused of killing bald eagle NEW SHARON — A Mahaska County man faces federal charges after allegedly beating a bald eagle to death and decapitating it. Jason John Thomas was arrested in New Sharon after being indicted by a federal grand jury. He is accused of killing the eagle i

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo