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Updated Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 03:46 AM

More cases of flu but less intensity in some regions

By Lena H. Sun
The Washington Post

Flu continues to spread across the country, but the severity of illness may be going down in some regions, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Friday.

In its weekly update on influenza, officials pointed to several measures that continued to rise and others that fell. “The bottom line is, it’s flu season, and most of the country is seeing influenza activity or has seen it and it may continue for a number of weeks,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said.

Flu is notoriously hard to predict. The dip in flu severity in some parts of the country — the South and Southeast — may be because fewer people went to the doctor during the holidays, officials said. Flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before, according to the latest CDC data for the week ending Jan. 5. The only states without widespread flu are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.

CDC officials also said preliminary data show this year’s flu vaccine to be about 62 percent effective, or moderately effective, in line with years past.

The proportion of death certificates that include “pneumonia or influenza” as the cause of death rose to 7.3 percent last week, just over the official “epidemic threshold” of 7.2 percent, but not unusual for this time of year.

Officials did not provide a total number of deaths from flu, but tens of thousands of Americans die from it or its complications annually.


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