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CDC Hopes Worst of Flu Has Passed

Times Staff Writer

There are signs that the flu season, which began abnormally early this winter, may have peaked in some parts of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Widespread influenza activity was reported in 38 states, down from 42 last week, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, the CDC director.

“We’re hopeful we are past the peak,” she said.

At least 93 children have died of influenza this season, federal officials said, 51 more than had been included in the government’s last count.

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Gerberding cautioned that “there is still plenty of flu out there” and that the course of influenza seasons can be unpredictable with flu rates rising again or new strains emerging later in the season.

She urged people with underlying, chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, to seek medical attention early if they thought they had the flu.

Gerberding said the toll of 93 confirmed influenza deaths in children younger than 18, taken from preliminary data from 31 states, is “a sad, sobering figure,” but that it was too soon to know whether this year’s number would be higher than in a typical year.

A direct comparison with other years is difficult because states are not required to report cases of flu, she said.

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The CDC and state health officials are discussing whether child influenza deaths should be routinely reported in the future, she said.

The CDC asked that states report such deaths after a spate of fatal cases in children early in the season.


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