ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
CANCER
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Breakfast Eggs Keep Folks on Diet
Vinegar Might Help Keep Off Pounds
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Think You Are Lead-Free? Check Your Soil
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
EYE CARE, VISION
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Heavy Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
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
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
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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