No matter the vantage point, flu is hitting Columbia especially hard this year.
Pharmacies, internet search engines, phone app manufacturers, as well as health agencies, now post flu rate updates online. Columbia looks really sick on all of them.
The most widely reported viewpoint comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The CDC FluView map shows almost every state in the country is at the widespread flu level. The DHEC Flu Watch has more South Carolina specific data. The charts showing the rapid rise in flu-related deaths and hospitalizations are especially scary.
Walgreens uses store data on the sale of flu-fighting medication to show the spread nationwide and rank the 10 most flu-ridden cities. Columbia ranked seventh worst in the most recent Walgreens survey.
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Google compiles data on the flu-related searches by geographic area. Columbia ranks among the most hard-hit on the Google flu trends index, but the number of searches has fallen in the past week. Is that a hint the peak is over, or just an indication people slowed their flu research to watch football on New Year’s Day holiday?
The Sickweather app uses social media mentions to track the rise and fall of various infectious diseases. It tends to jump up and down based on media stories on the flu, which often track slightly behind the actual increase, or decrease, in incidence. The most recent five-day window for Sickweather shows a couple of days with little flu-related social media traffic in Columbia. Maybe people were too sick to Tweet.