Preliminary findings released from crowdsourced Flusurvey database

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said on Dec. 18 that rates of influenza in the United Kingdom are lower than in 2012, and the virus has yet to take hold.

Flusurvey, a crowdsourced database run by scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, launched one month ago and more than 4,000 people have signed up.

According to the data collected, the highest rate of flu in the 0 to 18 years of age group was reported during the week ending Dec. 15, with 6,000 cases per 100,000 reported. The lowest rate of flu is among those 65 years of age or older.

Schools are also taking part in the survey, working in partnership with the British Science Association to monitor the impact of the virus in school classrooms.

"Flu levels are still very low but where there are flu cases, we're seeing most of them among under-18s," Research Fellow Alma Adler 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 survey collects data from men and women to map the seasonal flu trend. This allows researchers to track the virus and see how it spreads. School classes that are involved in the study will have access to the data during National Science and Engineering Week in March.

"U.K. 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 Association, 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."