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CDC: Child deaths from flu highest since 2009

More children have died from influenza this year than any year since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the CDC reported. File photo by Loren Kerns/Flickr License: 
More children have died from influenza this year than any year since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the CDC reported. File photo by Loren Kerns/Flickr License: 

March 20 (UPI) -- More children across the United States have died from the flu so far this winter than in any year since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

The agency's latest FluView report shows that 149 people age 18 and younger have died from influenza so far in 2019-20, the second-highest number since officials began tracking the statistic in 2004-05. In 2009, 217 children were killed by the virus.

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In all, the CDC estimates that at least 38 million Americans have had the flu so far this season, with roughly 390,000 requiring hospitalization. An estimated 23,000 deaths have been linked with the virus. The percentage of deaths across the country attributed to pneumonia and influenza -- 7.1 percent -- remains below the agency's epidemic threshold of 7.3 percent.

As most Americans worry about the new coronavirus pandemic, the percentage of visits to healthcare providers attributed to "influenza-like illness" increased from 5.2 percent to 5.8 percent during the week ending March 14. That coincides with the rise in new cases of COVID-19 across the country.

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Still, the percentage of laboratory specimens testing positive for influenza virus declined from 21.1 percent to 15.3 percent during that week, a sign flu season, at least, may be ending.

The new coronavirus shares many of the same hallmark symptoms with the flu.

In addition, Washington, D.C., New York City, Puerto Rico, and 37 states reported "high" flu activity during that week, three fewer states than the prior analysis period. The states reporting high activity were Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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