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Flu Still at Epidemic Levels: CDC
Date:1/25/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- While flu activity remains high across the United States, there are signs that the number of infections may be leveling off, federal health officials reported Friday.

The flu season, which got an early start in November in southeastern states, appears to be easing a bit in the South, Southeast, New England and the Midwest regions of the country. But infections are rising in the Southwest and the Northwest, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Hospitalizations and deaths -- key indicators of a flu season's severity -- increased again during the week ending Jan. 19. People 65 and older and young children are being hit especially hard this flu season.

Thirty-seven children have died from the flu this season, with eight deaths reported last week, the CDC said.

There's no system to report adult deaths from flu, but the agency said the number of deaths remains higher than the threshold used to declare a flu epidemic.

The predominant strain of circulating flu this season continues to be influenza A H3N2, which typically poses bigger problems for young children and the elderly, according to the CDC. But, predominant strains can vary across states and regions of the country, the agency noted.

Forty-seven states were reporting widespread flu activity last week, and two were reporting regional activity, the CDC said.

The 37 pediatric deaths so far compare to 153 deaths reported during the 2003-04 season, which was another H3N2 season, the agency said.

An estimated 36,000 people die from the flu and its complications in a typical season, according to the CDC. From 1976 to 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

Flu season usually peaks in late January or early February, but by November the flu was al
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