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Surveillance reports show few pandemic flu hot spots

Low levels of flu activity across the United States resemble a summer pattern, while globally only sporadic pandemic flu activity is occurring with the most active areas in parts of the Caribbean and Central America, according to updates today.

For the fourth week in a row no US states reported widespread activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its report for the week ending May 8. Hawaii was the only state reporting local flu activity. Half of the states and US territories reported sporadic influenza activity, with the other half reporting no activity.

Physician visits for flu-like illnesses stayed below the national baseline, and the CDC said lab-confirmed hospitalization rates have leveled out.

Deaths from pneumonia and flu continued to sink well below the seasonal baseline, and the CDC received no new reports of pediatric flu deaths.

Of 1,722 respiratory specimens tested during the latest surveillance week, only 1.5% were positive for influenza. All were influenza A, of which just over 65% were the pandemic H1N1 subtype. Subtyping was not performed for about 31% of the influenza A viruses. No influenza B viruses were detected, and one specimen tested positive for the seasonal A/H3N2 virus.

Internationally, flu activity was also low in temperate areas of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but sporadic in some tropical areas such as some Caribbean and Central American countries. Pandemic flu was geographically widespread in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, though other respiratory viruses are cocirculating, as well.

Intense pandemic flu transmission recently reported in Cuba appears to have peaked in late April, the WHO said.

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