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Report: 22 kids die from flu this season

NEW YORKTwenty flu-related deaths have been reported in children so far this winter -- one of the worst tolls this early in the year since health officials began keeping track.

Still, experts say that doesn't mean this year will turn out to be unusually deadly. Roughly 100 children die in an average flu season, and it's not clear that will happen this year.

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Last Friday, the CDC had reported 20 pediatric deaths in its weekly update on U.S. flu activity. The agency does not track adult deaths but state health departments do.

The deaths have included a 6-year-old girl in Maine, a 15-year-old Michigan boy who loved robotics and a tall high school senior from Texas who got sick in Wisconsin while visiting his grandparents for the holidays.

The high school senior, 17-year-old Max Schwolert, came down with the flu and had to be airlifted to a Minnesota hospital, CBS Evening News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reported Jan. 4. He then developed a bacterial infection and pneumonia which caused his organs to shut down.

Elderly people are often hardest hit by flu, by the FDA said last week that children are also vulnerable to the virus.

In the last 10 flu seasons, between 43 and 153 children have died from flu in the United States, according to Rodriguez, with an average of 20,000 children under 5 hospitalized each year.

CBS News has learned that three counties in Eastern Kentucky are closing school for the remainder of the week due to illness, primarily the flu. The Johnson County School district which contains 3,500 students at nine schools, the Martin County School district which has 2,000 students at seven schools and the Morgan County School district which has approximately 2,050 students at six schools will close.

On average, an estimated 24,000 Americans die each flu season. Elderly people with chronic health conditions are at greatest risk.

Nationwide, 47 states are reporting widespread flu activity with 24 states reporting high activity of influenza-like illness (ILI), 16 states reporting moderate activity, five states reporting low activity and five experiencing minimal activity.

Activity levels range from minimal, which would correspond to ILI activity from outpatient clinics being below the average, to high, which would correspond to activity being much higher than average, according to CDC.

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