Widespread Flu Outbreaks

New Media Producer: Brad Maglinger

In Dallas County Texas, where at least a thousand cases of the flu have been reported health officials hold a news conference to urge the public to get vaccinated and to use common sense.

Dr. Octavio Ramilo, from the Dallas Children's Medical Center, says, "There is no reason not to get a flu shot. You should challenge yourself. The public health system is here and provides the resources. We need to make a commitment and responsibility. It's in our hands, we know how to do it, and we have to do it."

The Center for Disease Control confirms widespread outbreaks of the flu in ten states, with all but seven reporting at least some flu activity. Along with the higher than normal numbers, it is the cluster of deaths in children, as many as six in Colorado, and a handful in both Texas and New Mexico that have health officials on alert.

The CDC says there may be a couple of reasons for the rough start to the season: the strain - Type A, is usually more severe than the others.

"When we look past over the last couple of decades, we see that in years in which this Type A, particularly Type A H3N2 is the most common virus, that levels of severe illness and death can be higher in the country than with other viruses," says Dr. Keiji Fukuda from the CDC.

In addition, flu researchers have identified a mutation of that is not covered by the vaccine. The CDC stresses because the mutation is from the Type A family, the vaccine should offer some protection and stress that a flu shot or spray is still the best defense.

Health officials say well over half of the flu cases this year are in children. That is not surprising, because kids are often in close contact situations, like schools and daycare.

For more on the flu log onto the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov.