The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

February 9, 2013

After early start, worst of flu season may be over

NEW YORK — The worst of the flu season appears to be over.

The number of states reporting intense or widespread illnesses dropped again last week, and in a few states there was very little flu going around, U.S. health officials said Friday.

The season started earlier than normal, first in the Southeast and then spreading. But now, by some measures, flu activity has been ebbing for at least four weeks in much of the country. Flu and pneumonia deaths also dropped the last two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“It’s likely that the worst of the current flu season is over,” CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said.

But flu is hard to predict, he and others stressed, and there have been spikes late in the season in the past.

For now, states like Georgia and New York — where doctor’s offices were jammed a few weeks ago — are reporting low flu activity. The hot spots are now the West Coast and the Southwest.

Among the places that have seen a drop:  Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa., which put up a tent outside its emergency room last month to help deal with the steady stream of patients. There were about 100 patients each day back then. Now it’s down to 25 and the hospital may pack up its tent next week, said Terry Burger, director of infection control and prevention for the hospital.

“There’s no question that we’re seeing a decline,” she said.

In early December, CDC officials announced flu season had arrived, a month earlier than usual. They were worried, saying it had been nine years since a winter flu season started like this one. That was 2003-04 — one of the deadliest seasons in the past 35 years, with more than 48,000 deaths.

Like this year, the major flu strain was one that tends to make people sicker, especially the elderly, who are most vulnerable to flu and its complications

But back then, that year’s flu vaccine wasn’t made to protect against that bug, and fewer people got flu shots. The vaccine is reformulated almost every year, and the CDC has said this year’s vaccine is a good match to the types that are circulating. A preliminary CDC study showed it is about 60 percent effective, which is close to the average.

So far, the season has been labeled moderately severe.

Like others, Lehigh Valley’s Burger was cautious about making predictions. “I’m not certain we’re completely out of the woods,” with more wintry weather ahead and people likely to be packed indoors where flu can spread around, she said.

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Study finds 35 percent in U.S. facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 30, 2014

  • U.S. blasts Israel for Kerry criticism

    The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a “misinformation campaign” against the top American diplomat.

    July 29, 2014

  • Outlook on Medicare finances improves

    Medicare’s finances are looking brighter, the government said Monday. The program’s giant hospital trust fund won’t be exhausted until 2030 — four years later than last year’s estimate.

    July 29, 2014

  • Plan to simplify 2015 health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hospital shooting suspect charged with murder

    A man accused of fatally shooting his caseworker and grazing his psychiatrist at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex before the doctor returned fire has been charged with murder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Man seeks video of Oklahoma City bombing

    One man’s quest to explain his brother’s mysterious jail cell death 19 years ago has rekindled long-dormant questions about whether others were involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    July 28, 2014

  • Bill in Congress to help veterans with PTSD

    A group of lawmakers have joined together to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Post Traumatic Brain Injury (PTBI) and other war injuries get speedy medical treatment — and avoid Veteran’s Administration bureaucracy and Department of Defense lack of accountability.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists also has crossed the border.

    July 28, 2014

  • U.S. says Russia is firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.

    July 25, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull but truce efforts stall

     Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 25, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video