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Texas hardest-hit of all U.S. states during this flu season

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 6th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Temperatures drop, people stay indoors for extended periods of time - flu season has hit the United States with a vengeance. Half of the nation reports widespread outbreaks attributed to H1N1, which was the dreaded virus that caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009-2010. An estimated 284,000 people died in that outbreak.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Thousands of people die every year from the flu, between the months of October and March, hitting the hardest in January and February.

Texas has been the most affected so far. At least 25 people have died from the flu this season, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. North Carolina has already reported 13 deaths and two people have died in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Six children have died nationwide. Influenza activity has been recorded across the country, with the south, particularly Texas, the hardest hit.

According to the Web site flu.gov, between five percent and 20 percent of people living in the U.S. get the flu each year. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, weakness, headache and aches and pains in the joints and muscles around the eyes.
 
Serious complications that can arise from the flu include bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, dehydration or worsening of chronic health conditions.

The CDC has documented 1,583 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu since Oct. 1, 2013. "The spectrum of illness observed thus far in the 2013-14 season has ranged from mild to severe and is consistent with that of other influenza seasons," the CDC said.

"We are seeing a big uptick in disease in the past couple of weeks,' Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of Epidemiology and Prevention in the CDC's Influenza Division says.

Some alarming health statistics related to influenza include:

 - Up to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts it annually.

- About 23,000 people die during flu season.

- In 2012, the flu vaccination reduced six million cases.

- The inoculations prevented 79,000 hospitalizations.

- Everyone over six months should get vaccinated, doctors say, including pregnant women.

With H1N1 the main strain again this year, health officials are expecting a different age group to also be widely affected.

"Based on what we're seeing so far, this year will be a very different picture than last year,' Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis says. "We fully expect to see many more cases in younger children and middle-aged adults. Mark my word, by the end of next week we'll probably see some fear and panic as it starts to hit kids."

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