Flu epidemic spreads in U.S.: report

Published: 18/02/2011 05:00



The flu season has reached an
epidemic level in the United States, circulating in all 50 states and widespread
in 37, HealthDay News reported on Thursday.

Pediatric deaths from flu tripled in
the past month, jumping from 10 early in January to 30 by Feb. 5, the report
said, quoting statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC).

Outpatient doctor visits because of
flu increased steadily from January to February, according to the report.

While it’s too early for exact
numbers, the flu, which usually peaks in February, contributed to eight percent
of adult deaths in 122 cities, the report said.

“We still have a lot of flu out
there,” said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner. “We saw activity really start to pick up
in December, and it has continued through January into February, which is
normal,” he said.

Skinner stressed that it’s not too
late to get a flu shot. “Flu activity is going to continue into March,” he was
quoted as saying. “There is plenty of vaccine out there, and we encourage
vaccination throughout the season.”

Of the three confirmed flu viruses
– influenza A H1N1, influenza A H3N2 and influenza B — the H3N2 strain has
predominated, but all three are circulating, according to the report.

“This year we are seeing a very
typical flu season,” noted one expert, Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor
of medicine at New York University, New York City. “The time is right on target.
This is when you see the peak of flu season.”

He added that “the number of
hospitalizations and deaths are right on course for a typical flu season.”

Each year about 200,000 Americans
are hospitalized and 37,000 will die from flu, Siegel said.


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