Officials are keeping a close eye on H1N1 flu spreading. After a slow start to the flu season, more states are reporting widespread flu cases in the last week, and officials said H1N1, formerly known as swine flu, in the south-central U.S. has killed five people.
A Center for Disease Control official told CNN that the flu season is a typical one right now, with the exception of the swine flu cases.
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"It's the same virus that we saw in 2009 that caused the pandemic," Dr. Michael Jhung, in the CDC’s flu division, told CNN
, the first year it was seen in people. “It's established itself very nicely in the human population. We've seen it every season since 2009 in people."
CNN said the virus is now called a human seasonal virus and is not referred to as swine flu. It was included in the flu vaccine this year.
Alabama, Louisiana, New York, and Texas reported widespread flu, meaning more than 50 percent of the state’s geographic areas had flu cases, first, and then last week, Alaska, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania joined the mix, CNN said.
One of the big differences the H1N1 flu brings to the season is that it tends to hit younger adults.
Typically, flu is more harmful to people who are older than 65 years, as well as young children or people with health issues.
“This year, because it's an H1N1 season so far, we are seeing more infections in younger adults,” Dr. Michael Young of the CDC told WebMD
. “And some of these folks have underlying conditions that put them at risk for hospitalization or death. This may be surprising to some folks, because they forget the population that H1N1 hits.”
Young recommended to WebMD that people get the flu vaccine if they haven’t already done so. Flu cases are expected to go up, peaking in the first two months of the new year.
WebMD said it is unlikely the H1N1 flu will reach pandemic proportions as it did in 2009, according to Young.
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