With snow on the trees, and a nice blush on everyone’s cheeks from the cold, winter can be a beautiful season. Unfortunately, that nice cold weather also brings colds and the flu.
The flu can be deadly, particularly to vulnerable populations like infants and the elderly. It’s not easy to know where it will strike, or in what form, since the flu comes in many strains; however, science is starting to catch up. Tap or click here to learn about 4 apps that will get you through cold and flu season.
There’s a map you can access that can tell you where different strains of the flu are, and where they’re expected to get worse. If you want to protect yourself, and your family, from the misery of the flu, check this map, learn how it works and learn how you can stay healthy through this cold and flu season.
The flu dashboard
The interactive map is called the “flu dashboard.” The dashboard comes from AthenaHealth, a company that gives health care facilities a cloud system to manage their practice, develop health apps and allow health care providers to access them.
Through its access to data, provided by health care facilities, the flu dashboard reports how many visits patients have made to facilities in the AthenaHealth network by state, and how many of those visits were for the flu.
The dashboard then reports what percentage of total visits resulted in a diagnosis of flu, or “influenza-like illness,” aka ILI. The more ILI diagnoses in a state, the darker green the color.
You can check how many flu diagnoses were made in different places in different weeks by clicking and dragging a dot above the chart to the right of the map. Then hover your cursor over the state you’re interested in learning more about.
For example, in week 51 of 2019, Dec. 15 through Dec. 21, Arizona had a 3.81% patients diagnosed with the ILI. Meanwhile, Maine had less than 0.5% of patients diagnosed with ILI.
Around this time last year, Arizona only had 2% of its patients diagnosed with ILI.
For the sake of comparison, we can check out flu stats in July as well. Texas was still seeing some cases diagnosed, but obviously, most everywhere in the U.S. was flu-free at the height of summer.
On the Comparison tab of the flu dashboard, you can see how this year’s flu/ILI diagnoses are doing compared to prior years among all patients or just pediatric patients, and when vaccination visits took place.
This year, it appears more people are being diagnosed with ILI earlier in the year than last year; however, the climb is following the same pattern it did in the 2017/2018 years.
This means flu season is likely to be nasty come January and February.
A computer friend is here to help with flu season
If you’re worried about contracting the flu this year, turn to IBM’s Watson AI. Through the Weather Channel app, Watson tracks where the flu is happening, and can actually warn you up to 15 days in advance if it’s spreading to your area.
You can get notifications from the app that will tell you when to expect higher risk dates for catching the flu. You can also receive notifications when there are confirmed cases in your town or zip code. For more information , tap or click here.
Keep yourself from getting sick with just a few tips
With sufficient warning from AthenaHealth’s flu dashboard and Watson, you can predict when the flu is coming, and avoid it. Since most of us can’t just leave town when that happens (though if you can, lucky you! Have a great time elsewhere!), here are some tips from the CDC to keep yourself flu-free.
First, when flu season begins, get a flu vaccine. Flu vaccines protect you from the strains predicted to be most prevalent each year and can reduce the chances of catching the flu, or can eliminate the chance altogether.
Next, remember to wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread from contact with shared objects, like doorknobs, banisters and poles. So carry hand sanitizer once the weather starts getting cold, and keep your hands below your neck. Also keep things around you clean.
Disinfect parts of your home, workplace and/or school that are touched often, or are shared. Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell, and if you can’t be apart from them, try not to touch them or things they habitually touch. Tap or click here to learn 5 ways to disinfect your tech to keep yourself from getting sick.
Drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of sleep to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Be physically active, eat well and keep your stress down to help, too.
If you do get sick, try to keep the people around you from sharing your fate by staying home, even if you have errands. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, using tissues or your elbow (since people are less likely to touch your elbow than, say, your hand).
And remember to wash your hands and disinfect things you touch to keep the flu contained. The flu is a rough sickness, one that can be severe. Protect yourself and your loved ones this year by looking at the flu dashboard, and using Watson through the Weather Channel app’s Flu Insight function.
From all of us here at Komando.com, we wish you good luck this cold and flu season, and hope you come out of it sniffle-free!