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U.S. flu outbreak worsens, likely to linger for weeks -CDC

Feb 9 (Reuters) - One of the worst flu outbreaks in the
United States in nearly a decade worsened last week and will
likely linger for several weeks, causing more deaths, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

Another 10 children were reported to have died of the flu in
the week ending Feb. 3, bringing the total infant mortality so
far this season to 63, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's acting
director, told reporters. The CDC does not require national
reporting of flu deaths in adults.

"I wish there were better news this week, but almost
everything we're looking at is bad news," Schuchat said. "There
have been far too many heart-wrenching stories in recent weeks
about families who have lost loved ones to influenza."

It was unclear whether the outbreak had reached its peak yet
or if it would get worse, she said. Previous outbreaks had
lasted between 11 and 20 weeks, and the current outbreak was in
its 11th week, she said.

The number of people hospitalized for flu-like illnesses is
the highest the CDC has seen since starting its current tracking
system in 2010.

The dominant flu strain this season, influenza A (H3N2), is
especially potent, linked with severe disease and death,
particularly among children and the elderly.

The outbreak has reached almost every corner of the country,
with every state except Hawaii and Oregon reporting widespread
flu, Schuchat said.

She urged sick people to stay home and said it is still not
too late for people to get a flu vaccine, which offers some
protection.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Paul
Simao)

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