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Early flu season could be upon us, CDC says

Federal officials say it's the earliest flu season in nearly a decade.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Published: December 7, 2012

Eight Oklahoma residents were reported hospitalized last week with influenza, according to state Health Department data released Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a nationwide significant increase in flu activity over the past two weeks, indicating an early flu season.

“This is the earliest regular flu season we've had in nearly a decade, since the 2003-04 flu season,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, said during a news conference this week. “That was an early and severe flu year, and while flu is always unpredictable, the early nature of the cases as well as the specific strains we're seeing, suggest that this could be a bad flu year.”

States south and east of Oklahoma, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, have recently reported a high level of flu-like illnesses, according to the CDC.

Since Sept. 30, the start of Oklahoma's flu season, the state Health Department has reported 20 residents hospitalized with flu-related illness. No deaths have been reported.

Dr. Robert Welliver, an infectious disease specialist with OU Physicians, said Thursday at a news conference that vaccination is the best weapon against the flu.

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