More than 6 million already hit by flu, CDC says

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By Maggie Fox

More than 6 million Americans have already caught influenza this flu season, and as many as 80,000 have ended up in the hospital, federal health officials said Friday.

For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can provide real-time estimates of the impact of flu on the public. They show between 6 million and 7 million people have been infected with flu, 3 million or more have visited doctors because of flu symptoms and between 70,000 and 80,000 have been sick enough to have been hospitalized.

“This is the first year that we’re actually reporting these numbers during the season, and going forward we’re going to be reporting them every week,” the CDC’s Dr. Alicia Fry told NBC News.

So far, the flu season has not taken off like it did last year, when close to 50 million people caught flu and 80,000 died. It was the worst flu season in decades.