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Flu deaths in California jump to 243
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SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California health officials warned that 243 people in the state have died from the flu this season, and authorities are investigating an additional 41 deaths this year as possibly flu-related.

The California Department of Public Health announced Friday that 41 Californians died from the flu just this week.

Still, the recent numbers show an overall statewide decline in the number of deaths this season, and the number of hospitalizations are tapering back to normal levels.

“The downward trend in the number of influenza cases is a good sign, but the season is far from over,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health. “Unfortunately, this influenza season is still severe.”

Health officials said 26 people had died from the flu by this time last year, about a quarter of the 106 reported through last year’s entire flu season.

The dominant strain this season is the H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu. The strain seriously affects young and middle-aged people.