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Reach of flu is widespread across CT.; less than last season & than rest of U.S.

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The flu continues to spread in many areas of the state, reaching levels the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) classified geographically as "widespread." National data, however, shows that Connecticut's flu activity remains low compared to the rest of the U.S.

CDC's Influenza-Like-Illness (ILI) Level Indicator, shows that the state of Connecticut has respectively low ILI during week five of the flu season. Week 5 ended Feb. 1 and is the most recent CDC data available.

There are also predictions by regional medical professionals that this year the flu will be less prevalent than last year. "It's shaping up to be a mild to moderate year, not the moderate to severe year we had last year," Dr. Jack Ross told NBC Connecticut on Jan. 31.

This flu season, there have been 2,387 positive reported cases of influenza in the state, according to the CT DPH. The vast majority of these reported flu cases have been Type A, also known as 2009 H1N1 or "swine flu.

In Hartford County, the CT DPH reports that 623 people have been infected with influenza, ranking second in the number of cases per county in the state. Neighboring Tolland County reports 80 cases.

As of week 5, eight influenza-associated deaths have occurred in patients older than 45 years. None of the nation's 40 flu-related child deaths occurred in Connecticut. There were 57 flu-related deaths in the state last year.

The number of Connecticut patients reporting "fever/flu" symptoms who checked into emergency departments is significantly fewer during week 5 of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) this year than last. The visits also appear to be on the decrease from the biggest spike of season in all the planning regions of Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), including East Windsor's Region 3.

Google Flu Trends also shows a dramatic decrease in flu-like activity this year in Connecticut when compared to last year, particularly between late December and late January. Google's Flu Trends accumulates Google search terms data to estimate flu activity.

Dr. Ross also predicted that Connecticut has already seen the worst of the flu and may have peaked during the last week of January, or will this week or next.

Visit Eastchester's HamletHub for tips on how to avoid the flu this season.

If you do find yourself with the flu or a really bad cold, East Windsor's (and my) own nutrition and lifestyle coaching practice, Mind-Body Shift, offers up tried-and-true ways to fight off the cold and flu naturally, with additional recommendations made by regional naturopathy physicians, acupuncturists and herbalists.

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