Health Officials Warn Flu is Striking Early This Season

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It may be no surprise to snifflers stuck in doctor’s office waiting rooms: The 2013-2014 influenza season appears to be picking up steam earlier than most flu seasons.

Flu season

Nurse practitioner Norinda Kremicki, left, at the Healthcare Partners West Hills clinic, speaks to Marilyn Ducote about a bad cough. (Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles Times / January 10, 2014)

On Friday, state and Los Angeles County health officials reported “sharp increases” in influenza activity, including illnesses and deaths.

“The number of confirmed fatalities is rising rapidly and exceeds what is expected this time of year,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez, of the California Department of Public Health in Sacramento.

The new data emerged amid concerns that this year’s flu — predominated by the H1N1 “swine flu” strain estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world in 2009 and 2010 — was striking young, healthy Californians particularly hard.

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