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Flu season hasn’t reached peak

The flu season has tapered off in only a handful of states and has yet to reach its peak nationwide, federal health officials warned.

At least five states — Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Washington and West Virginia — no longer have widespread outbreaks of flu, but 42 others still do, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The flu season in the United States got off to an unusually early and harsh start, raising fears that this could be one of the deadliest seasons in years, especially among children.

“If you look at overall data from nationwide surveillance, it doesn’t look like it’s peaked yet,” said Dr. Scott Harper, a CDC flu expert. “Nationwide, influenza-like illnesses are still on the rise.”

Nationally, more people are visiting the doctor for flu-like illnesses. About 9.4 percent of all outpatient visits surveyed by the federal agency last week involved flu-like illnesses, up from 7.7 percent in the previous week and the highest rate so far this season.

In addition, pneumonia and influenza accounted for a season-high 9 percent of deaths, up from 7.8 percent the previous week, in a survey of 122 U.S. cities.

The states listed as having widespread flu activity are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

City health departments in New York City and the District of Columbia also have reported widespread activity.