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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Health officials say this flu season is shaping up to be one of the more severe in recent years.
Earlier reports indicated that this could be a bad flu season and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the data now confirm it.
In the last week of December, flu was widespread in 41 states; flu-related child and infant deaths climbed to 18 and outpatient visits for flu symptoms had jumped to 5.6 percent.
“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” the CDC’s Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch Dr. Joe Bresee said in a statement.
On Friday, the CDC said 29 states and New York City are reporting high levels of influenza-like-illness and another nine states are reporting moderate levels.
Ten states, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Wisconsin, are still reporting low or minimal level.
The CDC says certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing serious influenza-related complications, including young
children, the elderly, people with certain underlying medical conditions and pregnant women.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Officials say the vaccine is well-matched to this year’s flu strains, but isn’t 100 percent effective. It does reduce the severity of the illness for those who do get it, though — so it’s still worth a shot.
“Anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now,” Bresee said.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)