Three new flu deaths in Maine, but latest data indicate cases on decline

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Influenza cases declined for a third consecutive week in Maine, signaling that the worst of flu season could over.

The state had 636 new flu cases for the week ending on Feb. 24, for a total of 5,625 for the 2017-18 season, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu is far more prevalent than the numbers show because most people recover at home while the statistics reflect people who tested positive for the flu in a hospital or doctor’s office. The total number of cases is now almost certain to surpass the 5,830 from the 2016-17 flu season. Flu season typically runs from October to May.

Flu cases climbed steadily through Feb. 3, when cases apparently peaked at 876 for that week. Cases fell slightly to 831 for the week ending Feb. 10, then dropped to 793 the next week before falling to 636 in the week ending Feb. 24.

Flu is notoriously unpredictable, and there could be other surges. Nationally, this season has been among the worst in recent years, with flu widespread through the continental United States.

There were three new deaths in the most recent week, bringing total deaths to 55 for the 2017-18 season.

The predominant strain that’s circulating is influenza A, H3N2, a more virulent strain that’s more likely to result in hospitalizations.

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In a Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 file photo, lab technologist Sharda Modi tests a patient’s swab for a flu infection at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Ga. U.S. health officials on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, said fewer visits to the doctor last week _ 1 out of 16 _ were for fever, cough and other flu symptoms than during the previous two weeks. The number of states reporting high patient traffic for the flu also dropped, to 39 from 43. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

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