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Over 100 dead as flu epidemic grips US

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   12 Jan 2013 5:47 AM GMT
The United States is in the grip of a flu epidemic.

Over 100 deaths have been attributed to the disease with 24 states and New York City reporting high levels of flu activity, according to CDC's flu advisory report for Dec 30 through Jan 5. That's down from 29 states the previous week, Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC was cited as saying by CNN.

"... We are into what would classically be described as a flu epidemic," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told CNN. "It's still on the uptick," he said.

"The only area of the country that's still relatively unaffected ... is the far West Coast," although plenty of cases have been reported there, Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of the CDC's Influenza Division, said Friday.

However, its spread across the country appears to have slowed in some areas, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the latest CDC activity map, flu levels dropped in several states, particularly in the Southeast, including Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas and Kentucky. In the Northeast, levels in some states have also improved, such as New York, but New York City remains among the areas of high activity.

The number of states reporting widespread activity, however, increased to 47 from 41, according to the CDC's flu advisory report. The only states without widespread activity are California, Hawaii and Mississippi.

Massachusetts is one state that the CDC had identified as having high activity of influenza-like illness based on the week ending Dec 29, but downgraded it to "moderate" activity in Friday's update.

There have been over 100 flu-related deaths this season. These include 18 in Massachusetts, 8 in Oklahoma, 22 in Pennsylvania, 13 in Indiana, seven in Arkansas, 22 in South Carolina, six in Illinois and four in Michigan.