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NH flu death toll reaches 20

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 17. 2013 4:15PM

MANCHESTER - The number of flu deaths in New Hampshire this season has increased to 20, including seven in the first two weeks of January.

Officials with the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services say while the death toll is unusually high for this early in the season, it is not necessarily an indication of what is to come over the next six or seven weeks.

Deputy state epidemiologist Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom said Thursday the numbers can fluctuate quite a bit over a short period of time. When it comes to influenza, it is very difficult to predict the outcome of an outbreak, she said.

The virus is one thats always changing and picking up new pieces of DNA,? Dionne-Odom said. ?Every time it comes, it's a bit of a guessing game on how it's going to affect different populations.

Last season, which took place during a mild winter, influenza caused four deaths in the state. Two seasons ago, there were 18 deaths caused by the flu in New Hampshire.

Dionne-Odom said the best way people can protect themselves is by getting a flu shot. She said there is still about half the season to go, and it is not too late to take the precaution.

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