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Jan. 11, 2013 at 4:58 PM
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Flu in 47 states but a drop in some states

ATLANTA, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Influenza activity remained elevated in parts of the United States last week but decreased in other areas, health officials said Friday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly FluView report said of 12,876 specimens tested, 33 percent were positive for influenza, up slightly for the week ended Jan. 5 from the preceding week's 32 percent.

Two influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported for a seasonal total of 20 pediatric deaths -- up from 18 the week before.

From Oct. 1 to last Sunday, 3,710 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported -- a rate of 13.3 per 100,000 population. The most affected group was adults age 65 and older. Among all hospitalizations, 86 percent were associated with influenza A and 13 percent with influenza B. The most commonly reported underlying medical conditions among hospitalized adults were metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, obesity and chronic lung disease excluding asthma. Among 55 hospitalized women ages 15 to 44, 10 were pregnant.

Twenty-four states and New York City experienced high influenza-like illness activity -- down from 29 the week before: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Blasts, shootings take huge toll

QUETTA, Pakistan, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Separate explosions and shootings blamed on sectarian, separatist and militant violence shook Pakistani cities, leaving nearly 100 dead and scores wounded.

All the attacks occurred Thursday in Quetta, capital of southwest Baluchistan province, the port city of Karachi and near Mingora in the scenic Swat district, making the day one of the deadliest in the country, authorities said.

In Quetta, there were two near simultaneous explosions at a snooker club, and another car bomb explosion earlier in a market area. The city is home to a large population of minority Shiites Muslims in the predominantly Sunni Muslim Pakistan. The entire resource-rich province has been wracked by sectarian and separatist violence.

CNN, quoting authorities, said the blasts at the snooker club killed at least 93 people and wounded 169.

Dawn, Pakistan's leading English daily, quoted police as saying a majority of the people killed at the snooker club blasts belonged to the Hazara Shiite community.

Obama: Afghan war to end in 2014

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama says Afghan forces will take over security this year and the war in Afghanistan "will come to a responsible end" by the end of next year.

Speaking at the White House Friday following his meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama said U.S. troops "will continue to fight alongside Afghans, when needed."

"But let me say it as plainly as I can: Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission -- training, advising, assisting Afghan forces," he said.

Obama said that milestone would be "another step toward full Afghan sovereignty."

"And by the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete -- Afghans will have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end."

Karzai said he and Obama agreed on "the complete return of detention centers and detainees to Afghan sovereignty and that this will be implemented soon after my return to Afghanistan."

Ten killed as storms hit Middle East

CAIRO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- At least 10 people have died in the Middle East this week from storms that have collapsed houses and washed a child out to sea, officials say.

Most of the deaths were in Egypt, where eight people died and seven were injured, including three tourists, in cold, turbulent weather, al-Masry al-Youm reported Friday.

In Damietta, one worker died when gusty winds caused him and another laborer to fall from a bridge. Five people died when their home collapsed in Assiut.

The inclement weather caused a car crash that killed two police officers and injured two other people. Three French tourists were hurt when their vehicle overturned.

Four ferries that were due to carry 700 passengers on the Red Sea were kept at the dock by high winds and strong waves. In Alexandria, trains were slowed by water covering the tracks.

In Lebanon, the body of a 7-month-old boy was found Thursday offshore of the coastal city of Khaldeh, The (Beirut) Daily Star reported Friday. The infant had been pulled from his mother's arm when high waves washed through their tent.

Judge OKs exhumation of lottery winner

CHICAGO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A Cook County probate judge Friday approved the exhumation of the body of a Chicago man who died a day after collecting $425,000 on a winning lottery ticket.

Judge Susan Coleman approved a request by the county medical examiner's office to exhume the body of Urooj Khan, who died in July 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Khan's death had been attributed to natural causes but toxicological tests -- resulting from a tip to authorities -- found levels of cyanide in his blood.

Khan's widow, Shabana Ansari, said Thursday she supported the exhumation, saying she believed it would "reveal the truth," WLS-TV, Chicago, reported.

Khan is survived by his wife and a teenage daughter from an earlier marriage. His lottery winnings are in probate because Khan's brother has said in court documents he wants to ensure the daughter receives her share of the assets.

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