Nasty US flu season showing signs of winding down

Credit Oklahoma State Department of Health

State health officials say the death toll from the flu in North Carolina has reached 200, putting it within reach of the record 218 deaths reported twice in the last three years.

Numbers released today show the total number of deaths due to the flu this season now stands at 97.

"It's definitely an encouraging sign", CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

CT is still experiencing widespread flu activity.

Despite the increased number of diagnoses, the Health Department said hospitalizations dropped 13 percent, to 2,160.

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Flu is characterized by a sudden onset of high fever, cough (usually dry), headache, muscle and joint pain, severe malaise (feeling unwell), sore throat and runny nose. "Locally, New Jersey is now experiencing widespread influenza activity throughout the entire state". The number of states reporting high patient traffic for the flu also dropped, to 39 from 43.

Twenty-eight more Pennsylvanians died as a result of influenza or complications of the flu in the past week, according to the state's department of health. The virus poses the greatest threat to young children and those 65 and older, but as Tan said, it sends persons of all ages to the ER.

"It's best you don't go to work", says Hinkson, "and not to other public areas where you'll be exposed to other people". "There are some reports about more people coming in with influenza like symptoms".

Maruti said there's no real way to confirm someone has the flu until a test is done. Slightly less than half - 48% - had an underlying medical condition, most commonly asthma, a neurologic disorder or obesity.

While individual flu cases are not reportable, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in MS who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.

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OCHD's Brian Rumpf confirmed that it's the H3N2 strain that is hitting the county hardest.

The CDC found that circulating flu strains this season are a mix of H3N2, H1N1 and B viruses. But even when they make that pronouncement, some experts expect the current season to last several more weeks and potentially into April.

That's according to the latest stats from AHS which also shows the total number of influenza-related deaths province-wide being 69 so far. The hospitalization rate for people 50-64 years was 53.4 per 100,000.

"Knowing what we know about previous H3N2 seasons and looking at the data, you can see a fairly steady rise of influenza B", Nordlund said.

Werker said "it's likely that influenza B has peaked", but added that she would like to see next week's data before she could be confident about the trend.

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