ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
New Clues to How Fish Oils Help Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Family History Key Player in Brain Cancer Risk
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
CAREGIVING
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
DIET, NUTRITION
Go Healthy, Not Hungry for Holiday Eating
Milk Destroys Antioxidant Benefits in Blueberries
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
EYE CARE, VISION
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Music Can Help Restore Stroke Patients' Sight
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
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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