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Yes, This Flu Season Is Worse Than Usual

Source: Google.org


Or at least earlier than usual. The map above was created by Google.org’s Flu Trends initiative, a non-profit wing of the very much for-profit Google. It tracks search terms which it deems good indicators of flu activity, then uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity. As you can see, the flu is peaking right now, more than a month earlier than average, and at a much more intense rate.

Now, this could mean a few things. One: people are just taking to the internet more than ever, and thereby searching “cough” and “fever” and “WHY ISN’T SEASON FIVE OF BREAKING BAD ON NETFLIX INSTANT YOU ANIMALS?” more than ever. But I assume the folks at Google have worked that into their search matrixes. The other meaning: this is a very, very bad flu season, and you should probably go get a flu shot if you haven’t already. If you need more proof, here’s a map of Texas’ flu season thus far:

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services

So, as of Dec. 29 (latest data) Dallas County was one of only 10 counties in Texas to confirm both of this year’s most common strains of the flu. And Texas’ flu outbreak is considered “widespread” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Probably time for a shot.