Flu season off to latest start in decades

Friday, February 17, 2012

ATLANTA (AP) -- Health officials say the flu season is finally here -- the slowest start in nearly 25 years.

Until this month, there weren't enough flu cases in the U.S. to signal the start of the season. This is the latest start to a flu season since the winter of 1987-1988.

Flu season usually starts in December or January. Often, it's half over by late February. CDC officials don't know why this season was slow but it could be a combination of factors.

On Friday, CDC officials said one state -- California -- has had widespread cases for the last two weeks, and Missouri has seen a spike in reports of flu-like illness.

So far the flu vaccine seems well-matched to the strains making people sick. Last flu season was considered average.

In Cape Girardeau, about 35 percent of the students at Cape Central High School were out sick Thursday, reporting flu-like symptoms. Some local medical professionals have said it's possible that some of the illness going around could be flu strains that aren't covered by current vaccines.

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