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California Sees Minimal Flu Activity

Though the flu season appears to be starting early for the rest of the country, California is reporting only sporadic flu activity across the state.

Health officials in California have seen a very minimal increase in the number of outpatients reporting an influenza-like illness, according to the most recent flu report from the California Department of Public Health.

According to the report published Dec. 15, only one person under the age of 65 in California has died from the flu this season.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that California is one of only three states reporting sporadic—or very little—influenza activity across the state. The other states are Hawaii and Vermont. Only Guam reported no influenza activity.

While California reported very little influenza activity across the state, the rest of the country has seen an uptick in the number of suspected influenza cases. Twenty-nine states reported widespread influenza activity.

Two children have died of influenza this season, and there have been a total of 25 reported deaths in the 122 cities monitored by the CDC. The CDC did not offer data on the total number of influenza-related deaths across the country.

"(This) report confirms that the U.S. flu season is off to early start,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in a statement to reporters. “It’s too early to tell how severe our season might be." 

The news of the increased influenza activity comes at the same time as a report from the Food and Drug Administration approving the use of Tamiflu, an antiviral medication designed to attack the influenza virus, to treat children as young as two weeks old who have shown symptoms of the flu for no more than two days.

Previously, the medication was approved to treat influenza in children as young as 1 year.

Nevertheless, Frieden recommended that people still get vaccinated against the flu.

"We know that thousands die and hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized with flu each year," he said. "Vaccination is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves and our families against infection. It's not too late to get vaccinated before the flu season peaks."

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