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It’s official…the winter flu season has finally begun. The latest start to in 24 years and so far one of the mildest

February 27, 2012

CDC has made if official! The winter flu season has finally begun, making this the latest start to the season in 24 years — and thus far it is one of the mildest.

CDC is speculating that our unusually warm winter this year might be playing a role in this season’s slow, mild start. Flu viruses survive longer on surfaces in cold, dry weather, and cold weather makes people huddle indoors, where they are more likely to transmit the disease.

Far fewer Americans than usual have been hospitalized with flu, and there have been only 3 confirmed flu deaths among children thus far this season, compared with 122 last season and more than 200 during the H1N1 pandemic of 2009-10.

Who is winning the flu race so far? Only two states — California and Colorado — have reported widespread flu activity on the agency’s weekly FluView report. Which by the way is a handy way to keep track of the flu in the United States.

When does the CDC officially count ready, set, go?!?! They declare that the flu season has officially started after three straight weeks in which more than 10 percent of all respiratory specimens reported to it contain an influenza virus.

An unusual aspect of this season is that the vast majority of those samples are from our old friend, type A, H3N2 (the 1968 flu pandemic virus), and the next most common are from the B group. In a typical American flu season, A(H1N1) is the most common strain, especially at the start.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, you’d better hurry up! It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/health/start-of-winter-flu-season-in-us-is-announced.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

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