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    LA County Health Dept. Says Flu Continues At High Levels Throughout County, Unclear If It's Peaked Or Will Continue to Climb; Most Cases Tested (77%) Are Strain Not Included In This Year's Flu Vaccine

    (Dec. 24, 2003) -- The L.A. County Dept. of Health Services issued on Dec. 22 the following summary of influenza activity:

    Influenza activity continues to occur at high levels throughout our county.

    The number of confirmed influenza cases in LA County sharply increased over the past few weeks. At this point, it is not clear whether local influenza incidence has peaked or will continue to climb.

    All influenza isolates collected in LA County have been type A. Some have been subtyped as type A H3N2, but further typing is still pending. Nationwide, the majority (99%) of positive influenza isolates are type A -- of those subtyped as type A (H3N2), most (77%) are the Fujian strain not represented in this seasonís vaccine.

    Pediatric deaths associated with flu and pediatric cases of acute encephalopathy associated with flu should be reported to Acute Communicable Disease Control.

    Concerns have caused an increased demand for vaccination, leading to nationwide shortages. This is despite the fact that the number of doses manufactured this year is equal to last year. Healthcare providers are advised to concentrate on vaccinating high-risk individuals and to consider alternatives (e.g., FluMist and antiviral prophylaxis or treatment) for others.

    Several antiviral medications are effective for both treatment and prophylaxis against influenza. A comparison of influenza antivirals is provided by the CDC at:

    There are currently considerable amounts of flu and flu-like illnesses circulating both within our county and across the nation.

    The recent increase in flu activity locally mirrors the increase in patient visits for influenza-like illness occurring nationwide (below).

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