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CDC Reports First Outbreaks Of The Season

January 10, 1985

ATLANTA (AP) _ The first flu outbreaks of the season were reported by government scientists Thursday, with patients ranging from students in California and Illinois to prison inmates and elderly people in New York.

Twelve states have now confirmed the Type A influenza strain researchers call H3N2, or the Philippines flu, the Centers for Disease Control said Thursday.

Four states have reported Type B, or Russian flu, and one state has reported Type A-H1N1, or Chile flu. But the Philippines flu, which was last season’s leading flu strain, ″certainly is predominant now,″ said Dr. Karl Kappus, a CDC flu specialist.

″It’s still too early to tell″ how severe the 1984-85 flu season will be or which strain will be the most common, Kappus said. This season’s recommended flu vaccine protects against all three major flu strains, he said.

″One thing of some interest″ in Thursday’s report is that the flu outbreaks reported so far have occurred in people of all ages, Kappus said.

Last season, flu in the United States struck mostly students, and in 1982-83 the problem was concentrated among elderly people in nursing homes.

The CDC reported an outbreak of ″influenza-like illness″ starting with a Sacramento, Calif., kindergarten teacher, her husband and her son in the first week of December. Within days, half her class was out sick with similar symptoms. Her son was tested and was found to have the Philippines flu.

In New York City, six inmates at Rikers Island Prison were found to have that same type flu in December, and visits to sick call quadrupled. At the same time, an outbreak occurred among elderly patients in a New York City nursing home, where seven patients were confirmed with Philippines flu and at least 23 more were reported ill.

In Illinois, outbreaks of the Philippines flu occurred in December among students in two counties near Springfield and at the Chicago campus of Loyola University. It also struck 170 patients and staff members at the Hines Veterans Administration Hospital in Chicago.

Flu season in the United States usually occurs during the cold-weather months, and the disease can be especially serious in older people.

The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said 12 states have now reported at least isolated cases of Philippines flu: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Four have reported Russian flu - Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio and Texas - and Texas has reported Chile flu.

Symptoms of the flu, a respiratory ailment, include fever, body ache and congestion.

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