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State of the flu: More states report flu-related deaths

January 6, 2014

    Paige Bashuck, Daily Briefing

    The number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 10 to 25 in just one week, according to the CDC's latest flu report with data through Dec. 28.

    You can see that surge reflected in CDC's weekly "FluView" tracker, which I've pasted below.

    Despite a slow start, health experts now say the 2013-2014 influenza season is in full swing. Flu-related hospitalizations and deaths are surging in nearly every part of the country. For example:

    Overall, 6.5% of all deaths reported during week 52 of 2013 were related to pneumonia and influenza. However, that remains below the epidemic threshold for that time of year. Meanwhile, 4.3% of outpatient visits during week 52 were for influenza-like symptoms. 

    H1N1 is this year's predominant strain

    The predominant flu strain this season is H1N1—the same strain that may have killed 203,000 people during an international pandemic in 2009 and 2010. Luckily, health experts were banking on this strain's dominance, and the current flu vaccine includes protection against H1N1, according to CDC's Joseph Bresee.

    State of the flu: Pregnant nurse fired for refusing flu shot

    "It's too early to tell how severe it's going to be but we're still on the up slope of the flu season, so what we can expect is more flu, more intense disease and more deaths over the next few weeks," Bresee told USA Today. He added that the H1N1 strain still has not developed much resistance to antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, so those with cold or flu-like symptoms should see their doctors immediately.

    Experts say antiviral drugs work best when administered within two days of getting sick.

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