ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Put Your Best Foot Forward Next Year
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
CAREGIVING
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Flu Strikes a Milder Blow This Season
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
EYE CARE, VISION
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Just Like Skin, Eyes Can 'Burn' in Strong Sun
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
FITNESS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Add your Article

Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close

THURSDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Confirming earlier reports, U.S. health officials said Thursday that the 2008-09 flu season was one of the milder seasons in recent 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.

The percentage of deaths attributable to pneumonia and flu, and the percentage of outpatient visits "suggest that this season has been less severe than the 2007-08 season and is more similar to the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons," CDC officials wrote in the April 17 issue of the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Flu activity was low from late September through early January, before peaking in mid-February, and remaining high until the middle of March. Since then, infections rates have been falling nationwide, according to the CDC.

"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," Dr. Alicia M. Fry, a CDC epidemiologist, told HealthDay earlier this month. "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 based its conclusions on 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, 45 children have died from the flu or related complications, 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.

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

-Steven Reinberg

More information

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



SOURCES: April 17, 2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Alicia M. Fry, M.D., M.P.H., CDC epidemiologist

Last Updated: April 16, 2009

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