HEALTH

Walgreens Flu Index: Flu incidence snakes north from Texas

BY Michael Johnsen

Oklahoma, Montana and Iowa topped the list for flu activity gains as flu incidence appears to snake north from Texas, according to this week’s Walgreens Flu Index, the Deerfield, Ill.-based retailer announced Wednesday. Though Texas continued to dominate the map with the number of areas currently experiencing high levels of flu activity.

For the week ended Jan. 20, the top 10 markets presently experiencing flu activity were:

  1. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.);
  2. Corpus Christi, Texas;
  3. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas;
  4. Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacogdoches), Texas;
  5. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas;
  6. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas;
  7. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas;
  8. Knoxville, Tenn.;
  9. Ft. Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.; and
  10. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, Iowa.

The top 10 designated market areas by flu activity gains were:

  1. Oklahoma City;
  2. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, Iowa;
  3. Lincoln & Hastings-Kearney, Neb.;
  4. Tulsa, Okla.;
  5. Chattanooga, Tenn.;
  6. La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wis.;
  7. Springfield, Mont.;
  8. Knoxville, Tenn.;
  9. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas; and
  10. Ft. Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.

The Walgreens Flu Index is a weekly report developed to provide state- and market-specific information regarding flu activity, and ranks those states and markets experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country. The Index provides insight by showing which cities or metropolitan areas are experiencing the most incidences of influenza each week based on Index methodology. The data does not measure actual levels or severity of flu activity.

The Index is compiled using weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens and Duane Reade locations nationwide, including Walgreens locations in Puerto Rico. The data is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.

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Latest SlimFast diet aid success to share all during FB Live event

BY Michael Johnsen

SlimFast on Tuesday named its new Weight Loss Transformation Coordinator, Chelsea C., who lost 168 lbs and is keeping it off with The SlimFast diet aid plan. “The Chance to work for SlimFast has changed my life. I get the opportunity to motivate people with my own story and in turn they inspire me,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea, who struggled with weight most of her life, decided to commit herself to losing the weight for good by incorporating SlimFast shake and snack diet aids into her daily routine while practicing portion control with the foods she loved. She now provides guidance and support for those beginning their weight loss journey on Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.- based company’s SlimFast Plan.

Her story will be featured in the Jan. 20, 2018 issues of Star, Us Weekly and Radar magazine, along with a SlimFast social media takeover that will include tips, tricks and recipes that helped Chelsea achieve her weight loss goal. Catch Chelsea, along with Registered Dietitian consultant Maryann Walsh, on Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. ET for a Facebook Live event featuring a Q&A session and Chelsea’s exclusive birthday cake smoothie recipe. “Chelsea’s weight loss journey and her ability to positively influence others by sharing her experience is such an amazing asset to the SlimFast community,” Walsh said.

Exclusive access to Chelsea and others who have been successful on The SlimFast Plan is available by joining SlimFast Together, a private Facebook Group that offers helpful tips, tricks and advice from fellow members.

 

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This year’s flu season officially worst since 2009

BY Michael Johnsen

It’s official. There is more flu-related illness impacting the U.S. today than there has been since the 2009/2010 season, when a summertime H1N1 epidemic was playing out across the country.

Nationwide for the week ended Jan. 13, 6.3% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. That’s well above the 6% peak of the 2014/2015 season.

“With much of the country experiencing widespread and intense flu activity, many of you may be have been directly impacted by this. You may have been sick with the flu yourself or caring for loved ones who are sick. I also know that many of you may have received the flu vaccine this season, but you got sick anyway,” CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald told reporters last week (and before flu activity reached new heights). “So far this season, influenza A, H3N2, has been the most common form of influenza. These viruses are often linked to more severe illness, especially among children and people age 65 and older. When H3 viruses are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths.”

So far, a total of 8,990 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported between Oct. 1, 2017 and Jan. 13, 2018. The overall hospitalization rate was 31.5 per 100,000 population. The highest rate of hospitalization was among seniors (136.5 per 100,000 population), followed by adults aged 50-64 (33.2 per 100,000 population) and children aged 0-4 years (22.8 per 100,000 population).

“While our surveillance systems show that nationally the flu season may be peaking now, we know from past experience that it will take many more weeks for flu activity to truly slow down,” Fitzergald said.

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