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Flu season started early this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. Most of the early cases are in the south and southeast. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas have reported high levels of flu activity. Nineteen states reported local flu activity, up from eight states that reported local activity the week before. There have already been two flu-related deaths in children. The CDC tracks influenza rates in its weekly FluView surveillance report.
The strains that are predominant this year are influenza A—both H3N2 and the H1N1 (pandemic swine flu)—and influenza B. The H3N2 virus may cause more severe symptoms than the other flu strains, noted Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University. Symptoms of flu include fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, cough, and stuffy nose. Healthy adults are contagious beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick. Children and those with weakened immune systems may be infective even longer.
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