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Expert Says Flu Could Claim 70,000 Lives

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DENVER, Dec 05, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The vicious flu outbreak sweeping through U.S. schools and workplaces could kill as many as 70,000 this winter, an expert predicted Friday.

"Influenza is a killer virus. And the way things are going, this year will be the worst I've seen in my career," Dr. Greg Poland, 48, director of the vaccine research group at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, told the Chicago Tribune.

Seven children lost their lives to flu over the last few weeks in Colorado, public health officials said Thursday.

Meanwhile, at least four Texans, including three children and an adult, have been killed by flu-related illness, as have three elderly nursing home residents in Washington state.

In Albuquerque, three children and an adult died over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

In many areas, the illness, said by some to be the worst in at least 30 years, is showing up earlier than usual and is expected to peak during the holidays.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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