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NEW YORK — A second wave of flu is hitting the United States.

The number of child deaths and the hospitalization rate for youngsters are the highest seen at this point in any season since the severe flu outbreak of 2009-10, health officials said Friday. And the wave is expected to keep going for weeks.

This flu season got off to its earliest start in 15 years, with surges in parts of the South in October.

That wave peaked in late December and dropped steadily for weeks afterward.

But a second surge began in late January. Last week saw another rise in the percentage of doctor’s office visits that were due to flu-like illness, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Overall, the CDC estimated that 26 million Americans have gotten sick with flu this past fall and winter, with about 250,000 flu-related hospitalizations and around 14,000 deaths.

Associated Press