NEW YORK (AP) - Health officials say flu is more widespread across the nation, but the number of hard-hit states has declined.
Flu season started early this winter, and includes a strain that tends to make people sicker.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before. But many cases may be mild. The only states without widespread flu are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.
The hardest hit states dropped to 24 from 29.
So far, 20 children have died from the flu. There is no running tally of adult deaths, but the CDC estimates that the flu kills about 24,000 people in an average year.
Experts say it's too early to say if this is a bad year.
Memorial Hospital reports treating 35 patients for flu this year since Oct. 5.
Penrose St. Francis hospital officials said about half of all their emergency visits are from people with flu like symptoms.
In Pueblo, Parkview Medical Center reports 11 cases of the flu virus since Dec. During last flu season, the hospital said it only had 7 cases total.