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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seasonal flu ramps up in U.S.; bird flu talks to start in Geneva

Via Los Angeles Times, excerpt :

" Flu was in the news Tuesday, with updates on seasonal influenza in the U.S. and on the debate over bird flu research that is raging around the world.In general, Americans have had a mild flu season this year.

But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in its weekly Flu View Surveillance Report that, for the first time this season, more than 10% of respiratory specimens collected in the U.S. tested positive for the flu -- 10.5%, versus 7.6% the prior week. According to the CDC, surpassing 10% is considered an indication that "flu season is beginning.

"Also this week, California became the first state to report widespread flu activity
this season. The FluView summary also stated that "Further increases in activity are expected in the coming weeks." Currently, the prevalent flu strain in the U.S. is influenza A (H3N2), but the number of cases of 2009 H1N1 viruses -- also known as swine flu -- has been increasing.

All of the flu strains detected can be treated with antiviral drugs, the CDC said.

In the meantime, researchers and policy makers prepared to discuss how to proceed with research into the transmissibility of H5N1, the bird flu that has ravaged flocks
in Asia and the Middle East and has killed several hundred people around the

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