TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

Survey finds flu has yet to take hold in U.K.

The flu has not taken hold in the U.K. with half as many cases reported as last year, according to a survey recently conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The school said on Wednesday that the Flusurvey indicated that just 6,000 cases of flu are being reported per 100,000 people. The number is half as many cases as were reported during the same period in 2012 when there were 12,000 cases per 100,000 people.

The survey is part of the U.K.'s largest crowdsourced study of influenza with more than 4,000 people contributing to the data. The survey found the highest rates of flu occurred among people aged 18 years and under. The highest rates were found on the southeast coast, followed by Scotland and Wales.

"Flu levels are still very low but where there are flu cases, we're seeing most of them among under-18s," Alma Adler, a Flusurvey researcher, said. "This is in line with what we already know from previous years about children being the 'key spreaders' of flu. Flu cases usually dip during the school holidays, so we may see even lower levels of people reporting influenza-like illness over the festive season."

The annual Flusurvey is part of an effort to collect data from men and women of all ages to map trends as seasonal flu takes hold. This is meant to allow researchers to analyze how the virus spreads and who it affects.

School classes participating in the survey will gain access to scientific data during National Science & Engineering Week in March.

"UK school children will be at the forefront of science helping researchers understand more about flu in a landmark year for study of the virus," Imran Khan, the CEO of the British Science Institute, said. "As well as being an important part of collating the data, they will also have the chance to examine the latest findings and trends, which may even relate to their local school or area. We hope this opportunity to engage with a live science project will show the important role that science has in many aspects of their lives."