Analysis of Early Flu Trends Sees Spike

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If statistics on this year's flu season hold, the U.S. may be in for a rather difficult winter. Athenaresearch, the data analysis arm of cloud-based EHR vendor athenahealth, has been tracking early season reports of flu-like illnesses, analyzing approximately 1 million patient visits per week to the 20,000 providers using the platform.

Overall, the percentage of visits related to influenza-like illnesses (ILI) stood at about 1 percent for the week ending Nov. 22, but in certain regions of the country—and among pediatric patients—the percentages were higher and the trends spiked at rates well above the 2013-14 figures for flu. The percent of visits to pediatricians with a diagnosis of ILI increased from 2.8 percent to 3.5 percent in one week's span, according to Iyue Sung, director of athenaresearch.

"As a result, flu is more widespread among children this year than last and rapidly approaching rates seen in the difficult flu season of 2012-2013," Sung wrote in a blog post detailing the trends.

Among adults, the highest rate of ILI increase was seen in the Midwest, while pediatric ILI visits in the South surged from 3.2 percent to 4.5 percent in one week. Sung wrote that pediatric ILI visits peaked at 11.5 percent in the 2012-13 flu season.

The full report is available here.

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