Will we have a flu-free Christmas? UK reporting half the number of flu cases compared to this time last year.
Preliminary results from the first month of the Flusurvey run by scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine indicate that flu is yet to take hold of the UK, with just 6,000 cases per 100,000 people reported, compared to 12,000 cases per 100,000 people for the same period in 2012.
Findings from flusurvey.org.uk show that where some cases of influenza-like illness have been reported, the highest rates were on the South East Coast, followed by Scotland and Wales.
More than 4,000 people have signed up to the UK’s biggest crowd-sourced study of influenza since it launched a month ago. Last week (week ending 15 December) the 0-18 age group were reporting the highest rates of flu across the UK, a trend which was also seen in previous years. The lowest rates of flu so far are among the over 65s.
This year sees a particular focus on measuring the progress of flu among young people. Schools across the UK are taking part in Flusurvey for the first time as researchers, working in partnership with the British Science Association, monitor the impact of the virus in classrooms.
Flusurvey researcher Dr Alma Adler, Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Flu levels are still very low but where there are flu cases, we’re seeing most of them among under-18s. This is in line with what we already know from previous years about children being the ‘key spreaders’ of flu. Flu cases usually dip during the school holidays, so we may see even lower levels of people reporting influenza-like illness over the festive season.”