"This represents a real increase in resistance," he said.
Forty-four states reported widespread flu activity this week, up from 31 last week. And, as of Feb. 9, 10 children have died from influenza this year.
"This is not particularly unexpected," Bresee said. "We may see more pediatric deaths before the season is finished."
The children ranged in age from 4 months to 14 years. During the last three years, flu-related deaths among children have ranged from 46 to 74, Bresee said.
Even though this year's vaccine isn't a good match for most of the circulating flu virus, the CDC continues to recommend that people get inoculated. The reason: The vaccine still offers partial protection and can reduce the risk of flu-related complications.
An estimated 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from the flu each year. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 people die from the disease. Some people, such as older individuals, young children, and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), are at high risk for serious flu complications, according to the CDC.
For more on flu, visit the CDC.
SOURCES: Feb. 15, 2008, teleconference with Joe Bresee, M.D., Branch Chief, Branch of Epidemiology and Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza Division, Atlanta; Feb. 15, 2008, CDC, early release, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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