Flu season starts early in U.S.
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The early flu season has started as evidenced by significant increases in flu activity in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control reported.
According to CDC's weekly surveillance report published Nov. 30, 48 states and Puerto Rico have already reported cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza and, nationally, the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza is rising fast.
There was no information readily available specifically about Pennsylvania.
Influenza-like-illness activity levels in parts of the country are already higher than all of last season.
Five states, all in the south, are already reporting the highest level of activity possible.
Most of the viruses characterized so far this season have been H3N2 viruses, which are typically associated with more severe seasons. Most of the viruses characterized at CDC so far this season are well-matched to the vaccine viruses.
With the exception of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, this year is the earliest the nation has reached a CDC influenza benchmark since the flue season of 2003-2004.
Last season, which was mild and late, the U.S. did not reach the benchmark until mid-March.
Flu vaccination coverage estimates were similar to those from the same time during the last flu season, the CDC said. More than 60 percent of Americans have not taken advantage of flu vaccination and the protection it offers from influenza and its complications.
The vaccination rates were:
• 36.5% of people 6 months and older
• 39.9% of children.
• 35.2% of adults.
As long as flu season continues, it's not too late to get vaccinated. The CDC urged those without vaccinations to get one.
First Published December 5, 2012 10:58 am