ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
CANCER
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
CAREGIVING
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
10 Beginner Tips for Fast Weight Loss, the Low-Carb Way!
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
Just Say No to Nuts During Pregnancy
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
City Kids Find the Breathin' Is Easier Elsewhere
EYE CARE, VISION
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Add your Article

Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- As the flu season winds down, experts say this has been the mildest season in years.

Less severe strains of influenza and a good vaccine match for the strains that were circulating combined to create a milder season this year than last, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If we look at mortality and the rate of hospitalizations, it seems like this year is less severe compared to last year and more similar to the years prior to last year," said Dr. Alicia M. Fry, a CDC epidemiologist. "The flu did not reach an epidemic threshold this year."

Historically, she explained, in years where the influenza type A H3N2 subtype is the predominate virus, the season is more severe. "This year was not one of those years," she said. "It was a year where the influenza A H1N1 virus was the predominate virus, followed by the influenza type B viruses."

The CDC arrived at this conclusion using data from 122 cities on deaths from flu or pneumonia among adults and flu-related deaths among children. It appears that flu-related hospitalizations and deaths were significantly lower this year, Fry said

Typically, the flu causes 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths a year, according CDC estimates. The old, the very young and people with chronic illnesses are at greatest risk.

So far this flu season, 43 children have died from the flu compared with 68 during last year's flu season, according to the CDC.

Flu vaccines are often 70 percent to 90 percent effective. Last flu season, the vaccine was only about 20 percent effective against the H3N2 strain and less than 2 percent effective against the B strains, according to the CDC.

But this year's flu vaccine was a very good match for influenza A H1N1 and H3N2, Fry said.

And that's good news, because there had been concerns about antiviral resistance, she said. The drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir), routinely prescribed to people with the flu, is resistant to this year's H1N1 strain, and the H3N2 flu strain is resistant to two other antivirals, rimantadine (Flumadine) and amantadine (Symmetrel).

Although 146 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed this season, the number of people who were actually vaccinated is unknown, Fry said.

Cases of the flu started to increase in January and peaked in the middle of February, Fry said. "There has been decreasing activity since," she said. "However, we still have many states that are still seeing flu activity."

And what might occur next year remains a mystery. "Never predict the flu season," Fry said. "That's the secret."

Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, said that several factors combined to make this year's flu season milder.

"The prevailing strains are not that virulent and are not particularly new," Siegel said. "The H1N1 strain is a distant descendant of the Spanish flu, but we have all built up a lot of immunity to it over the years."

In addition, he said, there was a lot of vaccine available this year, and there has been a high level of compliance. "Adding the 5- to 18-year-old age group to those who get vaccinated helped, since flu super-spreaders are generally children who don't take precautions, like washing their hands," he said.

"People are more aware of the flu because of recent media attention, but the former hysteria may have finally been converted into proper precaution-taking," Siegel added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the flu.



SOURCES: Alicia M. Fry, M.D., M.P.H., epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor of medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York City

Last Updated: April 08, 2009

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