Back-to-School Statistics on Flu and Strep
Based on the findings, flu/strep cases does not increase in number from August to September among school-going children.
- According to FluView, August and September had some of the least reporting of flu cases in 5 – 24 years old.
- The FluView has been collecting data on flu reporting since 1998 and the same trend explained above is seen since 1998. The peak of flu cases can be seen during December – February and drop to a minimum during June – October in 5 – 24 years old.
- According to Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance conducted by National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), pneumonia and influenza-associated deaths peak around December – February and drop to a minimum during July – September.
- According to CDC conducted Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs), "approximately 11,000 to 13,000 cases of invasive group A strep disease occur each year in the United States. Each year between 1,100 and 1,600 people die due to invasive group A strep disease".
- According to same surveillance data by CDC, "strep throat and scarlet fever are more common in the winter and spring and strep throat and scarlet fever are most common in children between the age of 5 and 15".
- Parents of school-going children and adults who are often in contact with children are often more vulnerable to group A strep.
YOUR RESEARCH TEAM APPLIED THE FOLLOWING STRATEGY:
Initially, we did find some sources that ascertained that flu/strep increases in number from August to September in school-going children. Flu/strep cases were commonly referred to as "Back-to-School Plague" in most of these sources. However, the facts and theories presented weren't backed by data and were mostly anecdotal or from the subjective experience of the author. Also, there were no backlinks to credible studies or surveys that could prove their claims. Based on the content of these articles, they were cautionary in nature.
Subsequently, we proceeded to search medical and scientific journals like The American Journal of Medicine, The BMJ, Oxford Academic Journals, Nature, BMC Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigations, Health Affairs, Science, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and Academic Medicine. We also searched for some disease-specific journals like The Journal of Infectious Diseases and Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology from ClinMed Journals. Despite an extensive search, our results were nothing substantial.
Later, we switched our attention to medical and disease-specific entities like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Infectious Diseases Society of America, United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, American Medical Association, and American Medical Student Association. These websites did not provide the required information. We couldn't locate any data that proved the hypothesis that strep/flu cases increase among school-going children between August and September. However, we found that the peak months of flu/strep cases are December – February. This information was backed by data from flu and strep surveillance conducted by CDC respectively.
Finally, we expanded our scope and looked for related data on a global level. We analyzed international medical and disease journals and website of the World Health Organization (WHO). But, the search strategy proved to be futile.
To conclude, there is not enough solid data to prove that flu/strep cases increase during the months of August and September. Hence, the hypothesis is false.