Online reports track flu season activity
Oct. 18--DECATUR -- Those who want to stay on top of the seasonal health threat of influenza can do so from the comfort of their own computers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Illinois Department of Public Health maintain online surveillance reports about the flu and how it is affecting the nation and state.
The CDC recently released its first FluView Report for the current influenza season, which began Sept. 30. The first report, available at www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/fluviewinteractive.htm online, indicated that so far, flu activity is low nationwide.
The system used by the CDC to track flu activity in the United States works to determine when and where the flu is happening and to monitor which flu viruses are involved. Aspects such as viral surveillance, pneumonia and influenza mortality, influenza-associated pediatric deaths, outpatient illness surveillance and geographic spread of the flu are discussed in each report.
According to the CDC, so far, one state reported local flu activity, 29 states reported sporadic activity and the other states and territories reported no activity or did not report. So far, no activity has been reported in Illinois.
The reports include interactive visualization tools such as maps, charts, graphs and other data that can be customized and compared. For information about flu surveillance in Illinois, visit the department's website at www.idph.state.il.us/flu/surveillance.htm.
Public health experts stressed that there is no way to predict the severity of the upcoming flu season, but one measure people can take to protect themselves is to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the vaccine to reduce their chances of contracting the virus and spreading it to others.
"It's important to get a seasonal flu vaccine every year, as the flu strains often change year to year and the vaccine effectiveness declines," Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said in a September announcement encouraging people to get vaccinated. "One of the biggest myths and most common reasons people don't get flu vaccine is because they think they get the flu from the flu vaccine. The viruses in the flu vaccine are either killed or weakened, so you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine."
Look for the vaccine at local pharmacies, physician offices and health departments.
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