Flu season not as severe as feared early; CDC urges caution, flu shots

The ominous signs for a harsh flu season have been lurking like the virus itself.

First there was this year’s outbreak in Australia – sometimes a predictor of similar trouble in the U.S. – to the presence of the H3N2 strain, which carries an especially powerful punch.

So far, though, the influenza virus has not begun to take the brutal toll it did two years ago, when 79,000 Americans died of causes related to the flu in the worst such spell this decade.

In its weekly update released Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported two flu-related pediatric deaths this season, with influenza activity remaining low, though it has increased of late.

The percentage of medical visits due to influenza-like illness nudged up to 2.1, which is still below the national baseline of 2.4%. In addition, Louisiana and Maryland were the only states that showed widespread cases of flu.

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