Swine flu causes major spike in flu cases


Flu season is kicking off in full swing this year. The main strain circulating in the USA is the H1N1 virus, which caused the swine flu pandemic of 2009-2010. It is most dangerous to pregnant women and young children and has already taken the lives of four children in the U.S. since Sept. 29, 2013, according to the CDC.

The Northeast and mid-Atlantic are especially flu-prone this winter, with New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts among the top 10. The CDC also placed Alaska, Wyoming and Kansas as well as three Southern states — Texas, Alabama and Louisiana — on widespread flu alert for the week ending December 21.

‘Flu season usually begins around now and peaks sometime between January and March,’ said Joseph Bresee, a CDC flu expert.”This is the first time we’ve seen it be the predominant strain since the pandemic.”

This year, there have been 1,156 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations, and four children have died of flu-related complications, according to the CDC but adult deaths are not tracked so it is unknown if any have died from the flu virus.

“It’s a typical influenza season, if I can use that word,” said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the CDC’s flu division, told CNN. But the resurgence of H1N1, the virus that was dubbed “swine flu,” is a surprise, authorities said.

The CDC is urging vaccinations to combat the spread of the virus during a flu season that’s expected to last into February.

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