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Flu in New York widespread

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The latest data on the 2013-2014 flu season was released by the Centers for Disease Control on Dec. 27. New York released its data a day earlier, describing seasonal influenza as widespread in the Empire State. Both sets of data were through Dec. 21. Influenza has been reported from all but six counties and in all five New York City boroughs since the season began Oct. 1.

While cases of influenza have been found throughout New York, the numbers remain lower than baseline. Visits to reporting healthcare providers for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) remain well below the region baseline of 2.2 percent, and far below last year's 5 percent for the same week. Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island are the most severely affected by ILI, at a 5 percent patient visit rate since the end of November.

Since Oct. 1, 360 patients have been hospitalized in New York with laboratory-confirmed influenza. This is lower than the same time periods for the last three flu seasons. The state has not had a pediatric influenza death this year.

Laboratory testing across the state has identified 1,383 patients positive for influenza. Pediatric patients account for 505 of that total, while there have been 114 elderly patients with the flu. The results are below those of 2012-2013 but higher than the 2011-2012 flu season.

The strain of influenza is checked in some, but not all, of the lab testing. Influenza A 2009 (H1) is the major flu in circulation in New York and throughout the U.S.. The Centers for Disease Control issued a Health Alert Network advisory on Dec. 24, alerting physicians nationally about the significance of this finding. In the 2009-2010 pandemic influenza outbreak, the illness affected many more young people than it did the elderly. Physicians are advised that "if pH1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, illness that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults may occur." The CDC states that this year's vaccine will provide immunization for the strain:

All 354 2009 H1N1 viruses tested were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like, the influenza A (H1N1) component of the 2013-2014 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine.



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