Flu Cases Rise Along U.S. West Coast, CDC Says

Influenza continued to sweep across the U.S. last week, with a spike in cases on the West Coast and early signs that parts of the East Coast may be past the worst of the epidemic.

About 9.8 percent of all deaths nationwide were due to the flu and pneumonia for the week ended Jan. 19, more than the 7.3 percent level for an epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today. There were eight deaths of children reported last week, bringing the total to 37 attributed to the flu since the season began.

The flu season, which has now been at epidemic levels for three straight weeks, may result in more than 30,000 deaths, making it among the worst in the past decade, health officials have said. The virus began spreading earlier than in past flu seasons and has been particularly deadly in the elderly.

The outbreak is at high levels in 26 states, with moderate activity seen in 14 others. Nine states had low levels of influenza during the week, while activity was minimal in Maine.

Six of the pediatric deaths reported to the CDC last week stemmed from influenza B viruses. While two-thirds of influenza B circulating this year is covered by the flu vaccine, one-third of strains aren’t.

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