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Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394

October 7, 1999
Contact: CDC, Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Is there a new flu virus circulating this season?
Has flu season come early in the United States?

CDC officials confirmed that an outbreak of influenza occurred this past summer among travelers to Alaska and the Yukon Territory and that it was associated with an influenza A(H3N2) viruses that are similar to the A/Sydney/5/97 strain that is included in the vaccine for the coming year. This particular virus strain has been the predominant influenza virus worldwide from the 1997-98 winter through this summer. CDC did not detect any new variant or unusually virulent influenza viruses associated with this year's Alaska outbreak.

Typically, a background level of influenza activity may occur during the summer months in the U.S. However, such activity does not predict the start or peak or severity of influenza activity during the fall and winter months. CDC has not predicted when influenza activity will substantially pick up in the U.S. CDC also has not issued recommendations for early influenza vaccination. However, CDC recommends that people at high risk of complications from influenza, including persons 65 years and over and those with certain chronic diseases receive influenza vaccine annually starting in October each year. Although the usual target period for influenza vaccinations is from October through mid-November, unvaccinated persons at high risk from complications should be vaccinated at anytime of the influenza season.

-- Keiji Fukuda, M.D., CDC, National Center for Infectious Diseases


Flu Season 1999-2000: See also...

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