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Flu epidemic waning nationwide, CDC says

5:11 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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USA TODAY - The flu appears to be waning nationwide after an early start in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Forty-five children have died as a result of the flu since the season's start.

Nationally, 9.4% of deaths reported in CDC's 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza as of January 26. That's above the epidemic threshold of 7.2%. The rate of deaths linked to pneumonia and flu the week before was 9.8%.

The week before it was 8.3%.

Nationally, the proportion of people going to the doctor visits for influenza-like illness was 4.2% down from 4.3%the week before, CDC's FluView report showed. The baseline number for the year is 2.2%.

Flu remains "elevated" nationwide, with 42 states reporting widespread geographic influenza activity and seven reporting regional activity, CDC said. The previous week 47 states had widespread activity.

Despite the downward tick, the flu continues to hit hard, especially in the West, and people are still dying from it across the nation. Flu rates are at the highest levels seen in the past four years in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

There are three strains circulating nationwide, with H3N2 the predominant one. It appears to be especially dangerous for the elderly. In Los Angeles, seven adults have died of flu, six of them over the age of 65. All had H3N2, the Public Health Department reported Thursday.

In San Diego, 19 people had died as of Tuesday, the majority of whom had underlying illnesses, according to the city's Health and Human Services Agency.

In Oregon, rates of flu-like illnesses are high, though so far this season no children have died from flu.

(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)

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