NEW YORK (AP)— The worst of the flu season appears to be over.
The number of states reporting intense or widespread flu dropped again last week, U.S. health officials said Friday.
The season started earlier than normal, spiking first in the Southeast and then spreading. But now, by some measures, flu activity has been ebbing for at least four weeks in much of the country. Flu and pneumonia deaths have been dropping for two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
"It's likely that the worst of the current flu season is over," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said in an email.
It's been nine years since a conventional flu season started like this one. That was the winter of 2003-04 — one of the deadliest in the past 35 years, with more than 48,000 deaths. Like this year, that season had the same dominant flu strain, one that tends to make people sicker.
But back then, the flu vaccine didn't protect against that bug, and fewer people got flu shots. The vaccine is reformulated each year, and the CDC has said this year's vaccine is a good match to the types that are circulating. A preliminary CDC study showed this year's version is about 60 percent effective.
So far, the season has been labeled moderately severe.
The government does not keep a running tally of flu-related deaths in adults, but has received reports of 59 such deaths in children. The most — nine — were in Texas, where flu activity was still high last week.
On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the CDC.
Flu vaccinations are recommended for everyone 6 months or older.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:25 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:25:37 GMT
MOORE, Okla. (AP) - Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin says "hearts are broken" for parents wondering about the fate of their children after a tornado devastated suburban Oklahoma City and officials say the searchMore
Emergency crews searched the broken remnants of an Oklahoma City suburb Tuesday for survivors of a massive tornado that flattened homes and demolished an elementary school. At least 24 people were killed, including nine children, and those numbers were expected to climb.More
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:38 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:38:17 GMT
After a devastating twister tore through the mid-west killing dozens, the American Red Cross of the Lower Shore are standing-by.More
After a devastating twister tore through the Midwest killed at least 24 people, the American Red Cross of the Lower Shore in Salisbury is standing by, waiting for word to mobilize a relief effort for Oklahoma.More
Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:03 AM EDT2013-05-21 12:03:41 GMT
SALISBURY, Md.- A former gym teacher who taught at Beaver Run Elementary School in Salisbury was on trial Monday in a "Peeping Tom" case.Jeffrey Brabitz appeared in Wicomico County Circuit Court on chargesMore
A former gym teacher who taught at Beaver Run Elementary School in Salisbury was on trial Monday in a "Peeping Tom" case.More
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:20 AM EDT2013-05-21 14:20:00 GMT
SEAFORD, Del.- Authorities say a woman was killed when the motorcycle she was riding on as a passenger collided with a pickup truck in Seaford late Monday afternoon. Seaford police said that shortlyMore
Authorities say a woman was killed when the motorcycle she was riding on as a passenger collided with a pickup truck in Seaford late Monday afternoon.More