Flu continues to wreak havoc around country

The CDC estimates swine flu has resulted in 14 million to 34 million cases from April through mid-October.

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The most recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate influenza-like illnesses continue to be cause for concern everywhere.

A study done in the last week of October indicates influenza activity remains high in the United States. Numbers are based on that time frame:

Visits to doctors for flu symptoms nationally decreased very slightly this week over last week after four consecutive weeks of sharp increases. However, such visits remain at much higher levels than what is expected for this time of the year. Parts of the nation continue to see sharp increases in flu activity and there is potential that numbers of cases nationwide could rise again.

Hospitalization rates for confirmed flu cases are climbing and higher than normal for this time of year. Those rates continue to be highest in younger populations, specifically in children 0-4 years old.

The CDC estimates that between 14 million and 34 million cases of H1N1 occurred between April and Oct. 17. The mid-level in this range is about 22 million people infected with swine flu.

According to government data 32 percent of people hospitalized for swine flu suffer from asthma.

The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza continues to increase and has been higher for five weeks now than what is expected at this time of year. In addition, 18 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported for this week. Since April, the CDC has received reports of 129 laboratory-confirmed pediatric H1N1 deaths and another 15 pediatric deaths that were laboratory confirmed as influenza.

Forty-eight states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time, down one number from last week. Reporting states include Washington and Oregon. This many reports of widespread activity in this calendar period is unprecedented during seasonal flu.

Almost all of the influenza viruses identified so far continue to be H1N1 and remain similar to the virus chosen to base the H1N1 vaccine on. The virus remains susceptible to current antiviral drugs.

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