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Trend points to mild U.S. flu season

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ATLANTA, Oct 19, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Based on flu cases in the southern hemisphere and in the United States, officials are hoping this winter's flu season will be mild, USA Today said Tuesday.

Dave Daigle, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the winter flu season just wrapped up in countries south of the equator offered hope.

"The Southern Hemisphere saw a moderate year, and we're hoping we will too," he said, adding cases in the United States already recorded in seven states are "absolutely within the range of what we expect at this time of year."

Daigle said tests indicate the flu strains circulating match those in the current vaccine, although federal officials are grappling with an unexpected shortfall of some 45 million doses because of contamination at a manufacturing plant in England.

The CDC said it would begin to notify communities this week about when they can expect the remaining 20 million vaccine doses on order.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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