ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Oregano Shown to be the Most Powerful Culinary Herb
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
FITNESS
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Have Fun But Put Play It Safe on the 4th
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
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
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
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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