Several Countries Battle Record Flu, Face Rising Death Tolls

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There is widespread flu activity in every state across the country, except OR and Hawaii.

The latest figures bring the national total of pediatric deaths to 53 for the week that ended January 27, up from 37 the week before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's In the week ended January 20, seven children died from the flu.

In addition, New York City, Puerto Rico, and 39 states reported high activity levels of influenza-like illness during week 3, an increase of 7 states from the total reported in the previous week's FluView report. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "the flu virus can "live" on some surfaces for up to 24 hours. It's tuning out to be a very significant flu season", Levine said. During that flu season, 148 children died and 710,000 were hospitalized.

This years flu season has now sent more people to the hospital with the illness than in almost a decade, federal health officials said Friday.

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Schuchat was named acting CDC director earlier this week after Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigned from the post because of financial conflicts of interest, including purchases of tobacco and healthcare stocks while in office.

That's in part because this season the most common virus is H3N2, which typically means more cases, hospitalizations and death, especially among the elderly. So far this year, the cumulative rate of hospitalizations is the highest since we've been tracking in this way, which goes back to 2010, Schuchat added.

While there are precautions being taken - flu shots, cleaning more thoroughly, wearing masks - it is hard to get all of the germs that are out there. The country is now in its 10th week of the flu season; the average duration is 16 weeks but can last for 20 weeks.

This flu season won't end until several weeks later. The current crop of flu vaccines tend to be more effective against H1N1 viruses.

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