US Flu Season Starts Early, Could Be Bad, CDC Says

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  • NEW YORK (AP) — Flu season is off to its earliest start in nearly 10 years — and it could be a bad one.

    Health officials on Monday said suspected flu cases have jumped in five southern states, and the primary strain circulating is one that tends to make people sicker, especially the elderly.

    “It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The good news is the nation seems to be fairly well prepared, Frieden said. More than a third of Americans have been vaccinated, and the vaccine is well matched to the strains of flu seen so far, CDC officials said.

    Higher-than-normal reports of flu have come in from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. An uptick in flu cases like this usually doesn’t occur until after Christmas.

    It’s not clear why the flu is showing up so early. But flu-related hospitalizations are rising earlier than usual, and there have already been two flu-related deaths in children.

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