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athenaResearch Flu Report: Has Flu Peaked for the Season?

by Iyue Sung, PhD, Director of athenaResearch

National influenza-like illness (ILI) rates may have reached a high for the 2014-2015 season, according to data from roughly 20,000 primary care providers on the athenahealth cloud-based network. For the week ending December 27, 2014, ILI rates reached 4.6% of patient visits and then dropped to 3.3% for the week ending January 3, 2015. Pediatric rates also fell during that time period, reaching 10.5% for the week ending December 27, and then dropping to 6.2% for the week ending January 3.  

Have we now seen the high for the year? It is likely, but not certain, at least for adults. Within the athenahealth network, the last week of 2012 and 2013 marked the peak for the previous two flu seasons.  However, during the 2012-2013 season, we saw a double peak pattern for children (Figure1). With that in mind, we will continue to monitor flu closely and report back if we see a similar resurgence.
The past week’s decline in ILI rates was evident across all U.S. regions (Figure 2).  Our hope is that the height of the flu season is now over; however, ILI rates will likely stay at relatively high levels over the next few weeks.
As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome and may be directed to athenaresearch@athenahealth.com, or to @IyueSung or @JoshGray_HIT on Twitter.

athenaResearch analyst Stewart Richardson generated the analysis for this report.

As a statistician, Iyue is responsible for methodology, analytic infrastructure, and extracting data-driven insights from the athenahealth patient database. 

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