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Flu symptoms? Walgreens is using 2018 prescription data to track activity with this map

Flu symptoms? Walgreens is using 2018 prescription data to track activity with this map
[Photo: elizabeth lies /Unsplash]

As we wrote earlier this week, this year’s flu season is the worst since the CDC began keeping track in the early 2000s, but the CDC isn’t the only one with a handy map to monitor flu activity. The folks at Walgreens have figured out a pretty interesting way to map out which areas in the United States are being hit the hardest week to week. Tapping into its vast network of retail pharmacies across the country, the company is compiling prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza.

From there, the data is inputed into an interactive map powered by the spatial analytics firm Esri. The data is updated weekly and includes a list of the most heavily affected metro areas and states. For the week ended January 13, the top five hardest-hit states were Texas, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Nebraska. Texas was hit especially hard, with nine out of 10 of the most affected metro areas in the Lone Star state. You can see the full list here on the Walgreens Flu Index.

Walgreens has been doing this for a few years now, but the data is especially helpful this year. The CDC says it recorded 22.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the United States for the first week in January. Be careful out there.

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