It looked like the Beehive State had one of the lowest levels of flu-like illnesses in the country the week of Feb. 3, but that might not actually be the case.
The Washington Post published an interactive graphic that displayed every state's level of flu-like illness based on CDC data.
The data tracks hospitalizations nationwide during the flu season, too.
Utah, along with North Dakota, ranked on the “low” end of the scale compared to all other states. Montana and Maine had “minimal” levels of infections, according to the report.
However, Rebecca Ward, health educator at the Utah Department of Health, told the Deseret News in a phone interview that Utah’s numbers may appear low “for any number of reasons."
She said these numbers represent those with influenza-like illness, which are people who have symptoms associated with the flu, like high fever, cough and a sore throat, and visit their health care providers.
She said those experiencing flu-like symptoms may not visit their health care provider, which means they wouldn’t be included in the influenza-like illness numbers.
“You’re looking at basically outpatient visits, basically people who are going to see their health care providers,” she said.
Ward said Utah residents shouldn’t take low reported numbers as a sign to not get a flu vaccine or not see a doctor.
“It’s important for people to still get vaccinated. If you’re not vaccinated, it’s not too late and it’s really important,” she said. “Flu is unpredictable. It can change from week to week.”
She added, “Bottom line is, it’s still out there.”
A closer look at the Utah Department of Health’s data, which collects surveillance data for the CDC, shows that Utah’s weekly influenza illness activity was about on par with last year’s flu season.
A chart from the health department showed Utah’s number spiked around the end of December and has remained high ever since.
Still, Utah’s numbers are now level with last year’s numbers, and the 2013-14 season. Only the 2014-15 flu season had higher numbers at this point, according to health department data.1 comment on this story
Most recent numbers showed most counties in Utah had low, moderate or minimal influenza-like illness activity. Only the Bear River area reported a “high” amount of activity, according to the data.
During the week of Feb. 3, the Beehive State saw 108 total hospitalizations because of the flu.
For the middle week of February, health department data show Bear River and Davis County reported high levels of activity. The rest of the state remained at minimal to low/moderate levels.
However, there were only 74 hospitalizations for that week, bringing Utah’s total to 1,471. During the last week of February, there were 71 hospitalizations, raising Utah's total to 1,587.