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You don’t have to listen to news reports to know that this flu season is one for the record books. Emergency departments, primary care physicians, and urgent cares all over the country are overrun with patients waiting in line see a doctor. And it’s not over yet.
According to the latest DocuTAP data, this winter’s flu season came early and strong, much like the 2013-2014 flu season. In December 2017, 6.6 percent of visits included a flu diagnosis compared to 6.7 percent in December 2013. But unlike January of 2014 when flu cases started to decline, this January we saw the flu in record numbers. Looking at January 2018 data, more than 13 percent of urgent care visits included a flu diagnosis in January—the worst month we’ve ever recorded and twice the flu diagnoses by percentage from the previous month.
Looking at January 2018 flu data by region, the Southwest felt the greatest impact of the flu, with 20.1 percent of visits including a flu diagnosis. Other regions reported flu as follows: The Southeast (15.6 percent); Midwest (10.4 percent); Northeast (9.3 percent) and finally the West (7.5 percent).
As we look at the monthly urgent care data week-over-week, the most significant increase in flu over the month was in the Northeast. Patients with a flu diagnosis climbed from 4.9 percent the first week in January to 14.1 percent during the last week in this region. The West was the steadiest week-over-week.
The flu was widespread across the entire continental U.S. during the month of January, with Oklahoma and Texas the hardest hit.
Looking at the urgent care flu trends week-over-week for the 10 states with the highest percent of flu during the month, Louisiana and Mississippi may have reached a peak and show decreasing flu diagnoses during the month. In Oklahoma and Georgia flu numbers continued to rise significantly (approximately 10 percent) through January.
Analysts continue to compare this flu season to the 2013-2014 flu season, but there are significant differences. Download Urgent Care Quarterly – Issue 01 to see urgent care flu data from previous seasons. We’ll keep crunching the numbers to keep you informed and help you successfully navigate this flu season and the year ahead.