This year’s flu season has officially been declared the worst one in at least the past 8 years, due to both it’s sustained prevalence and its strength, and it has experts scratching their heads.
This is important because public health officials will try to examine and learn from the flu data from this year as they start to develop next year’s vaccines in hopes of preventing something similar from happening.
Most of the time, flu season peaks at the end of December or beginning of January. But this year the peak really get here until early February, which is a recipe for a bad flu season.
According to Axios, who have an incredible animated version of the picture above, the following factors contributed to the bad season:
- As seen in the graphic above, reports of influenza-like illness — defined as having a fever of 100°F or higher with a cough and/or a sore throat — continued to be prevalent longer than in most other seasons.
- For this year and last year, the flu season was considered to be active when 2.2% of all Americans who visited the doctor in a given week had flu symptoms.
- This year’s flu season started earlier than last year, and the level of reported illness was higher. At its peak, during the week ending Feb. 3, 7.5% of all Americans who visited the doctor likely had the flu. The cases have started to trail off, but not enough for flu season to be considered over.
- Last year, the flu season peaked during the week ending Feb. 11, with 5.1% of all Americans visiting the doctor reporting flu symptoms. That season ended in mid-April.