Flu is widespread but season may be peaking — CDC

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	5 dead more than 300 hospitalized in Georgia as flu spreads health officials say

The CDC said they aren't sure how severe this flu season will end up being, but the number of related deaths continues to increase.

"Flu is everywhere in the USA right now", Dr Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on a conference call.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We've seen a very high level of demand in the recent week from people looking to protect themselves and their families against flu this winter and has meant some Boots stores temporarily ran out of stock for a limited time".

In addition, the rate at which Americans are being hospitalized for the flu nearly doubled in the last week, to 22.7 for every 100,000 hospitalizations, according to the CDC.

There are indications that the H1N1 virus, which caused the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic but is now a regular human flu virus, is also starting to show up, Jernigan said.

"We have a lot of flu season to get through still", Jernigan said.

He also noted that it's not yet clear how effective this year's vaccine has been, particularly with the A strain.

National health officials predict the flu vaccine may only be about 32 percent effective this year.

In a report released Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health says influenza-like illness is widespread throughout the state, comprising 6.94 percent of the cases seen by outpatient providers and 4.62 percent of those appearing as the chief complaint in emergency departments.

The CDC cautioned Friday that we could still have three months left in flu season.

Federal health officials cite the bad winter weather, holiday travel and the severe H3N2 strain for the high number of hospitalizations in the state and nationwide.

Kris Ehresmann, the Health Department's director of infectious disease, says Minnesotans should get their flu shot now if they haven't already.

In seasons when the predominant strain is H3N2, vaccine effectiveness tends to be lower than that against H1N1 and influenza B viruses, Jernigan said.

So far, more than 151 million doses of vaccine have shipped, Fitzgerald said at the media briefing.

At UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, the emergency room saw more than 200 patients on at least one day, mostly because of the flu.

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