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Tue Jan 15, 2013, 09:35 AM

Flu Shock: Outbreak Already Ranks as One of the Worst in a Decade (Chart)


Cough, sore throat, body aches, fever. If you've typed these words into Google recently, you're not alone.

This year's flu season is off to a fast and furious start. The chart above shows data from Google's influenza tracker, which analyzes how often people are searching for flu-related terms on Google to estimate how many people have fallen ill. Google's model was developed with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and can show changes in the trajectory of an epidemic before they appear in data collected from doctors and hospitals.

Google's data show this year's outbreak to be the worst in the last six years. That includes the 2009 swine flu outbreak, which infected about 61 million Americans but turned out to be less deadly than initially feared. Globally, the U.S. remains the hardest hit, though it's still early in the Northern Hemisphere season for numbers to be peaking.

The Google data aren't perfect, and the weekly CDC flu report suggests a somewhat lesser outbreak. Three seasons in the last decade registered at least as bad as the current level of outbreak, according to the CDC data (left): the 2009 pandemic, and the moderately severe seasons of 2007-2008 and 2003-2004. Another positive sign is that the death toll this season, while above normal for this time of year, so far isnít especially gruesome.

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Reply Flu Shock: Outbreak Already Ranks as One of the Worst in a Decade (Chart) (Original post)
xchrom Jan 2013 OP
MineralMan Jan 2013 #1
SheilaT Jan 2013 #2

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 05:45 PM

1. Despite the flu vaccine, I caught this year's flu.

However, it was a mild case, and I was never forced to climb back in bed. I even traveled on a 12 hour plane trip on the worst day of it.

So, next year, I'll be taking the flu shot, just as I do every year. For some reason, I didn't develop a complete immunity. My wife, however, did not catch it, despite my exposing her to it.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 03:29 AM

2. On that first chart, I would really like to see


exactly what the numbers are, not just a vague, low, medium and high.

I saw recently that the state of New York has reported 20,000 cases of flu. How amazing, how incredible. What's the population of New York again?

I think one real problem is that the definition of an epidemic keeps on being lowered, until some time in the near future an epidemic will be defined if at least two people get the illness.

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