Steep Climb In Seasonal Flu Cases May Be Leveling Off, Trackers Indicate

Flu Activity Remains High, However, Authorities Say

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Chattanooga led Walgreen’s Flu Index showing the top 10 communities with “growing flu activity” not long ago, during the week that ended Feb. 3, and came in sixth among the top 10 areas where influenza was present. 

Seven days later, for the week that ended Feb. 10, the city had dropped completely off both lists. 

That’s just one of several indications that the recent spike in seasonal influenza cases here and across the nation may be starting to ease. 

Erlanger Hospital, for example, said it treated 184 patients exhibiting influenza-like illnesses during the first full week of February – 42 less than during the prior seven days. 

However, authorities emphasize, flu activity remains high and this year’s flu season has weeks to go. 

“While these latest figures are lower than the previous week, they are still significantly higher than the same period the last two years,” according to Jennifer Tittsworth, media relations manager for Erlanger Health System. “Last year, at this point in the flu season, Erlanger has reported only 316 total cases of flu. In 2015-16, during this same time period, Erlanger had treated only 83 cases of the flu.” 

Some parts of Chattanooga/Hamilton County and surrounding areas have been hit far harder by flu-related illnesses than have others, according to, a new website and mobile app that provides instant access to data reported from almost a million doctor’s office throughout the nation. 

Drawing from a national database of doctor-diagnosed and reported cases over the past seven days, the website gives consumers access to data that can be broken down by zip code, health condition and/or age group. 

Specific locations are ranked according to the DoctorsReport illness scale ranging from 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst. “The major factors that define the severity scale are: number of diagnosed and reported cases from actual doctors’ offices; comparisons to other geographic locations; and comparisons to historical trends for the same area,” according to the website. 

On the DoctorsReport map showing the incidence of influenza in Chattanooga, for example, two areas – zip codes 37408 and 37412 – are shown in deep blue indicating “very high.”  Both score 9.5 out of a possible 10 points. 

Ringgold scores an 8 – Easter egg purple – and Ooltewah is close behind with 7 (violet). 

On the DoctorsReport map showing incidence of influenza A, however, the numbers – and the color distribution – change. Zip code 37411 scores highest – 9.5 – and is shown in deep blue. Zip codes 37421 and 37343 are close behind, scoring 9.0 and 8.5 respectively. 

Pneumonia is less pervasive, according to  a third map showing the incidence of that disease in Chattanooga and surrounding areas. Ringgold scores highest with 6.5, following by adjoining zip code 37421 with a score of 4.0. 

To check out DoctorsReport and its flu tracker, visit

The Walgreen’s Index – which the chain compiles by measuring and analyzing the weekly data for prescription antiviral medications used to treat influenza purchased at its stores across the nation – does not measure actual levels or severity of flu activity. 

Since it does not include markets in which Walgreen’s has fewer than 10 retail locations, it is not comprehensive. 

To view the Walgreen’s Flu Index, click here.

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