Atlanta - Jan. 11, 2013

1. SOUNDBITE: Dr. Michael Jhung / Medical Officer, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

"As far as the influenza report goes for this morning, I think the bottom line is there is still a lot of influenza activity out there. There are some areas of the country that are showing some decline in the percentage of people going to their doctors for influenza-like illness. And there are some areas of the country that aren't showing this decline. That are showing lots of activity. We're right in the middle of influenza season and we expect high levels of activity for quite some time yet. As far as different measures of influenza activity; there are 47 states reporting widespread activity this week and that is an increase compared to last week. There were 41 states. Another measure of influenza activity is the intensity of activity. And right now 24 states are reporting high activity and that is a decrease actually from last year where 29 states in the country were reporting high levels of activity. Influenza hospitalizations is something else we keep track of. And that number, that rate I should say, is increasing and we expect it to increase for some time."

"Children are one of the groups we identify as being particularly at risk for severe illness from influenza. That's why we keep track of the number of children who die every year from influenza. And sadly that number has not been zero since we've been doing this kind of surveillance. There were two children reported this week, two have died with influenza. And that is an increase, brings us up to 20 for this year from 18. It's always unfortunate when anyone dies from influenza. We pay special attention to children because as I said, they are at special risk and we target a lot of our prevention messages such as vaccination, such as anti-viral use and other things toward that group to prevent any complications particularly death in young children."


Flu is more widespread across the nation, but the number of hard-hit states has declined, health officials said Friday.

Flu season started early this winter, and includes a strain that tends to make people sicker. Health officials have forecast a potentially bad flu season, following last year's unusually mild one. The latest numbers, however, hint that the flu season may already have peaked in some spots.

Flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday. Many cases may be mild. The only states without widespread flu are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.

The hardest hit states fell to 24 from 29, with large numbers of people getting treated for flu-like illness. Dropped off that list were Florida, Arkansas and South Carolina in the South, the first region hit this flu season.

Recent flu reports have included the holidays when some doctor's offices were closed, so it will probably take a couple more weeks to know if the flu has peaked in some places or grown stronger in others, CDC officials said Friday.

Nationally, 20 children have died from the flu. There is no running tally of adult deaths, but the CDC estimates that the flu kills about 24,000 people in an average year.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months or older, and health officials say it is not too late to get vaccinated.

Nearly 130 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed this year, and at least 112 million have been used. Vaccine is still available, but supplies may have run low in some locations, health officials say.