New Jersey now says that the number of reported cases of flu is double last year (the fluseason of 2016-2017). Some communities have been especially hard hit for obscure reasons. The resort community of Cape Map reports a 5,200% increase in reported flu cases.(1) That’s the kind of statistical abberation you can get when you have very few cases, 53 this year thus far. After all, this is hardly beach season!
However, it does raise interesting questions about reporting. The effects of this years flu strains are more severe. One report said that the number of hospital patients due to flu is the equivalent of every hospital bed in New York and Florida combined. Due to severity, more people are having to go for medical assistance, and more cases are being reported to the CDC.
However, for a lot of us, when we get the flu, we simply tough it out. That’s what we’ve always done. Our cases are never reported.
Which raises the question of how many unreported cases of flu are there in a normal year? How much of an increase is cases is there this year, compared to total cases (reported and unreported) last year?
There was some analysis of under-reporting of flu during the swine flu epidemic of 2009. At that time the CDC estimated that there were 79 actual cases for each one case reported.(2) That’s huge.