By Senior Writer
NBC News
updated 2/1/2013 11:49:20 AM ET 2013-02-01T16:49:20

Flu continues to spread misery at epidemic levels across the United States, but there are some signs it is starting to wane, federal officials said on Friday. But it’s killed at least 45 children, many of them previously healthy kids, and continues to put many elderly into the hospital.

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And most people getting sick don’t actually have influenza, but some other virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

The weekly report on influenza-like illness from the CDC shows flu is active in all 50 states still, but it’s fallen to minimal levels in nine states -- Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

It’s still bad in New York City and 24 -- Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas,Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The CDC tracks flu and flu-like illness on a week-to-week basis, comparing each week to the average for the same week in previous years. “During week four (of January), 9.4 percent of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were due to pneumonia and influenza,” the CDC says in its report. “This percentage was above the epidemic threshold of 7.4 percent for week four.”

Over the last week, eight children died from flu, bringing the total for 2012-2013 to 45, compared to 34 last year, 122 in the especially bad 2010-2011 season and 282 during the first year of the the H1N1 swine flu pandemic – which hit children and young adults unusually hard.

Of all hospitalizations, more than 50 percent were among adults 65 years and older.

Most people don’t get tested when they think they have flu, but of those who did, 25 percent were positive influenza, meaning three quarters of people with flu-like symptoms had something else.

It’s not clear when flu season will peak – usually, January and February are the worst months in the United States, but flu season can sometimes last into May. The CDC says it’s really never too late in flu season to get vaccinated.

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