Mild winter, still lot of colds and flu

April 5, 2012 at 10:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- Almost 80 percent of U.S. adults said the winter was mild but it didn't seem to affect the number of people reporting cold and flu, a survey indicates.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which asked 1,000 Americans each day whether they had a cold or the flu "yesterday," found those reporting flu-like illness on any given day peaked in February at 3 percent and dropped in March.

In general, the percentage of U.S. adults who reported having a cold the day before being asked was roughly three times the percentage who report having the flu -- colds peaked at 9.3 percent in February and fell to 6.4 percent in March, the survey indicated. This year's cold/flu season was similar to previous years', except for the 2009-2010 season, which involved H1N1 flu.

Measuring colds versus the flu via survey research is complex because of the overlapping symptoms of the two illnesses and misunderstanding among many Americans regarding what symptoms constitute "the flu" versus "a cold," Gallup officials said. Also, those who have been ill recently may be less willing to take a survey.

During the peak cold/flu month of February, 10 percent living in the East reported being sick with a cold, while Americans living in the West were the most likely to report being sick with the flu, at 3.4 percent, the survey said.

Americans with an annual household income of less than $36,000 were more likely to report having a cold or flu.

The survey has a margin of error of 0.4 percentage points.

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