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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Dose of good news: Seasonal flu 'no-show'

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Call it the flu season that wasn't.

Despite the cold and snow, the seasonal flu bug that strikes during winter months is absent.

"It's been practically nonexistent," Guillermo Cole, spokesman for the Allegheny County Department of Health, said Tuesday. "It's like a no-show flu."

Seasonal flu typically thrives this time of the year, with outbreaks peaking as late as March.

This year is different, with outbreaks of the nearly forgotten swine flu -- or H1N1 influenza -- occurring in fall.

Swine flu infected about 57 million people nationwide, instead of the usual 25 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Doctors' offices and hospital emergency rooms, however, are reporting little activity from seasonal flu -- a different strain that can affect up to 20 percent of the population.

Cole said the Health Department has received no recent flu reports from hospitals. The state Department of Health reported 97 cases of seasonal flu through Feb. 20, compared with 2,710 during the same period last year.

"We've seen very little to none," said spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman, noting that department numbers provide only a partial picture of flu activity.

At Children's Hospital of UPMC in Lawrenceville, doctors said they haven't found a positive culture of either H1N1 or seasonal flu since December -- even though patients with flu-like symptoms overwhelmed the hospital in October. Doctors at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Allegheny General Hospital said they are seeing almost no patients with seasonal flu.

"The typical season of the flu was completely overshadowed by the H1N1 flu," said Dr. Marc Itskowitz, an AGH internist with offices in the North Side.

To read more, visit the Tribune-Review website.


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