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High flu activity in US leaves 3 children dead

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Flu activity is up this week in the U.S. and is responsible for the deaths of three children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that out of 5,511 specimens tested between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, 20 percent, or 1,139 were positive for the influenza virus. Three pediatric deaths associated with influenza were reported – one linked with influenza B and two with influenza A.

“Increasing flu activity should be a wake-up call,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a press release. “For anyone who has put off vaccination: It’s time to get your flu vaccine now.”

Eight states are reporting widespread flu activity: Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Fifteen states are reporting regional activity: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) was 1.9 percent, which is below the national baseline of 2.2 percent, according to the CDC. Three regions reported ILI above the national baseline. 

Four states are experiencing high ILI activity: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Thirty-seven states and New York City are experiencing minimal ILI activity.

In the U.S., the flu puts up to 200,000 people in the hospital each year and is responsible for killing between 3,000 and 49,000 people per season.

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