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Less Flu in Connecticut? CDC Says Looks Can Be Deceiving

CDC(WASHINGTON) -- Connecticut is a lone green state in a sea of red, but we’re not talking politics.  

Connecticut shows up on a map as a state with minimal flu-like illness, surrounded by states with high flu-like activity levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The agency has just issued its Influenza Surveillance Report, or ILINet, for the last week of December.

But if you’re worried about the flu, that’s not a reason to move to Hartford, health professionals say.  Connecticut is far from flu-free, and CDC data aren’t perfect.

“Germs don’t respect state lines,” said ABC News Chief Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.  He said Connecticut certainly didn’t escape the flu just because other states have had higher percentages of outpatient office visits.

It’s possible that Connecticut’s numbers were artificially deflated because of students’ winter break, said William Gerrish, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  College student health centers account for a large percentage of flu reports in the state.

“Unfortunately, these student health centers have been essentially closed during the long holiday break, resulting in an artificially low statewide ILINet activity level,” he said.

Gerrish also said that a separate flu map, which includes only laboratory-confirmed flu cases, shows Connecticut as a state with “widespread” flu cases, meaning that no areas are flu-free.  (ILINet is broader and includes flu-like illnesses.)

“These indicators clearly show that Connecticut has not avoided the flu,” Gerrish said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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