Interactive Flu Forecasting Website Now Live

Flu trends posted on Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases website

(RxWiki News) Want to know how many flu cases are forecasted for where you live? There’s now an interactive website that shows predicted flu trends across the US.

The Columbia Mailman School of Public Health has launched a site that gives weekly predictions for influenza cases in 94 US cities.

The interactive Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases: Influenza Forecasts, or CPID, tells you what parts of the country are hardest hit, what the flu outlook is for various cities and the number of cases in the 94 cities covered, along with historical data for comparison.

"Keep track of the flu in your area."

Jeffrey Shaman, PhD, assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Mailman School, led the development of the site and forecasting system.

"We hope the site will help foster greater awareness of influenza activity and risk around the country, and motivate individuals to take measures, such as vaccination, to protect themselves against the virus," Dr. Shaman said in a press statement.

The interactive map of the US includes dots for each of the cities covered. Hovering over those dots provides the name of the city and the number of flu cases for every 100,000 people in the population.

For example, there are currently 719 cases of flu for every 100,000 people in Tampa, Florida.

Another part of the site features a box of all the color-coded regions of the country. Clicking on a state shows what the flu forecast is for that area in the coming weeks.

The current CPID forecast includes mixed reviews:

  • Flu cases are predicted to peak in mid- to late-January for most of the country, according to the forecasts.
  • Two areas — Miami, Florida and Providence, Rhode Island — won't see the peak of the flu season until February, though.
  • Meanwhile, the already hardest hit states — Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Nevada — can breathe a bit easier since these areas have already seen the peak of their flu seasons.
  • Compared to the 2012 season, this year will be milder, but quite a bit more severe than 2011, according to the forecasts.

The site also allows one to compare four of the most recent flu seasons, as well as compare forecast methods.

The data is a compilation of Google Flu Trends and WHO/NREVSS collaborating labs to make the flu forecasts.

In addition to improving flu awareness among individuals, CPID developers hope the site can assist the efforts of public health officials in stockpiling and distributing vaccines and antiviral medications. In the event of more severe outbreaks, the site will be useful in helping officials plan ways to manage public health such as closing schools, if necessary.

For even more information on flu, flu surveillance, history and reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also maintains a comprehensive website full of flu facts.

Review Date: 
January 15, 2014