CDC: Flu widespread nationwide, but cases down this year in Florida

Only Winnipeg region has had more flu cases than Northern Manitoba this season

Flu taking toll in California, other states, but having milder impact nationwide, data show

Flu season in Texoma is getting serious. Photocopier buttons are rarely wiped down and usually a hotbed mashup of several types of germs that can make you ill.

According to the Florida Department of Health, there was an uptick in the number of flu cases reported in the first week of this year, but overall the numbers are down from the last flu season. Up to 84,00 of those people were hospitalized.

In Illinois, the most recent data (which also goes through January 5) shows 163 people have been hospitalized for influenza this season, and one child has died, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. This means that ARGONet will be the most accurate program to estimate influenza activity and that it can report all the US flu activity a week ahead of the traditional reports.

Doctors maintain the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves against the flu is to get an annual flu shot.

Laurentiu Givelichian, the head of pediatrics for the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said that in his province the flu isn't just affecting more kids than usual - it's making them sicker, too.

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Doctors say that pregnant women are also at a high risk for flu complications.

Almost all of the confirmed cases of influenza in Manitoba since September 1 have been influenza A, which typically is worse than flu cause by influenza B strains, though the disease from those can also be severe. "We do know, however, that the main influenza virus circulating this year (H1N1) is the same virus that circulated in the 2009 pandemic, which also more severely impacted northern communities".

"This year the flu is affecting young to middle-aged people with chronic diseases", said Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health. The agency reported severity indicators will likely rise and noted there have been 16 pediatric deaths reported from flu his season.

The Ministry of Health said that people who want the flu vaccine can get in touch with their public health offices. However, the season is less intense so far than last year, with the rate of influenza-like illness 3.5 percent compared to a peak of 7.5 percent last year.

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