Widespread flu nearly coast to coast

February 22, 2008 7:30:22 PM PST
If you've had the flu lately, you've got a lot of company. This year's outbreak now extends from sea to shining sea.

The Centers for Disease Control says flu is now widespread in every state but Florida.

Dr. Nancy Cox, head of the CDC's flu division, says that while the number of states experiencing widespread flu has risen from 44 to 49 this week, the spread of the flu does not appear to be rising as dramatically as it has in the past two weeks.

Dr. Cox says, "We may be nearing the peak within the next few weeks." She says it is shaping up to be a worse flu season than recent years because most of the flu bugs out there are of the H3N2 variety.

"H3N2 viruses tend to cause a more severe impact," Dr. Cox told ABC news. "So in a year when H3N2 viruses predominate, we tend to see higher levels of excess hospitalization to do with influenza and also a greater excess mortality with influenza."

The CDC also says that although flu is worse than in recent years, over the long range, the numbers are fairly normal.