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Flu slowing in the South, rising elsewhere

ATLANTA, Jan. 11 (UPI) —

The South, which usually gets influenza first and most seriously, reports the flu has slowed, but it is still increasing in other areas, a U.S. official says.

The spread of the flu across the United States appears to have slowed in portions of five states in the South and Southeast, a federal official told CNN early Friday, even as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warned of the onset of "a classic flu epidemic."

"We are into what would classically be described as a flu epidemic," Fauci, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Thursday.

"It’s still on the uptick. That uptick that started early — which was right at the very beginning of December, end of November, and is continuing to go way up — has led now to widespread flu activity through virtually, essentially the entire country with few exceptions."

New York said Thursday it had confirmed more than 19,000 cases of influenza compared to last year’s 4,404 cases for the entire flu season.

However, in New York City, patients with influenza accounted for about 5 percent of emergency room visits in the city — higher than past years, but New York City is not raising the same level of alarm as other cities such as Boston, which declared a public health emergency Wednesday.

In Pennsylvania, flu-related hospital emergency department visits remained elevated in all regions of the state. Flu-related illnesses accounted for 3 percent to 40 percent — median 4.7 percent — of all emergency department visits reported by sentinel hospitals.

In Pennsylvania, 11,327 laboratory positive cases have been reported to date. But, more than 7,000 flu cases were reported during the last two weeks of December. There were 22 reported flu-related deaths in Pennsylvania, health officials said.

"Remember, once it peaks, you still have a considerable amount of time where there is a lot of flu activity, and right now it may have peaked in some places, but for the most part, it has not yet peaked," Fauci said.

The CDC does not keep records on U.S. adult flu-related death. However:

— Minnesota recorded 27 flu-related deaths.

— Indiana has 13 confirmed adult deaths and two pediatric deaths.

— Arkansas has seven confirmed flu fatalities.

— South Carolina has counted 22 deaths.

— In Illinois, there were six deaths.

— In Michigan, there have been four pediatric deaths.

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