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CDC Activates Emergency Operations Center To Assist States With Flu Relief

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ATLANTA — The nation's top health agency has activated its emergency operations center and has established response teams to assist states with the country's flu outbreak, federal officials said Friday.

The first major test of the center came after SARS, the deadly respiratory disease, was first detected in China last November.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was expected to release more information Friday afternoon.

The North Carolina Health Department is currently holding a press conference to discuss the flu outbreak.

The agency also was preparing to post new information on its Web site for health workers, detailing how to properly prioritize patients who show up at hospitals with possible flu symptoms.

Agency officials have been studying child deaths from the flu this season, officials said.

At least 36 states -- including North Carolina -- have been labeled by the agency as having widespread flu activity, the nation's highest outbreak level for influenza, and no state has been untouched by the virus.

The flu season has struck early, and many areas have reported flu shot shortages as demand quickly outpaced supply. But the government has worked to purchase remaining flu shot supplies for states.

During the SARS outbreak, the CDC was able to distribute more than 2.5 million alerts to travelers on more than 300,000 direct and 2 million indirect flights to the United States. It also broadcast the latest information to China about the disease, which killed 774 people and sickened more than 8,000.

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