Flu season off to slower start this year; might be milder

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NEW YORK — Health officials say there’s not much flu going around so far this year.

That’s a stark contrast to the last three flu seasons, when doctors’ offices were filled with patients before Christmas and illnesses peaked by late December.

U.S. officials released the weekly flu figures Friday. Only one state, South Carolina, is reporting significant flu-related traffic at doctors’ offices and clinics.

Traditionally, most flu seasons don’t really get going until around Christmas — possibly triggered by holiday gatherings that bring together people and viruses. Infected kids then go back to school, mingle with classmates, and flu season takes off.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory this week predicted there’s a 57 percent chance this flu season will peak in February.

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