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State: Hawaii could see flu outbreak within a month

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:11 p.m. HST, Jan 11, 2013

Hawaii health officials say widespread flu across most of the United States may be coming to Hawaii in about one month.

Dr. Sarah Park, Hawaii’s state epidemiologist, said today that flu in the state is at a low, steady level normal for the islands during this time of year. 

Park says Hawaii may see a pickup as travelers go to and from the U.S. mainland. She says if flu activity peaks, it will lag about one month behind other U.S. states. 

Five-year data provided by the state shows Hawaii generally sees a flu peak around the eighth week of the year.

Park says vaccine is still available. She said shots or spray are recommended for everyone — particularly travelers and those welcoming guests from mainland U.S. states. 

National health officials say flu is more widespread across the nation, but the number of hard-hit states has declined.

Flu season started early this winter, and includes a strain that tends to make people sicker.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today said flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before. But many cases may be mild. The only states without widespread flu are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.

The hardest hit states dropped to 24 from 29.

So far, 20 children have died from the flu. There is no running tally of adult deaths, but the CDC estimates that the flu kills about 24,000 people in an average year.

Experts say it's too early to say if this is a bad year.

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