The New Jersey Health Department says the flu season arrived two weeks earlier than normal this year with a strain of the virus that causes more severe symptoms and results in more hospitalizations than lesser types.


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Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner says two children have died from the illness so far in New Jersey. Both patients, a 14-year-old and an 8-month-old, had underlying medical conditions making them more susceptible to the virus.

Leusner said Friday that hospital emergency rooms visits by patients with flu-like symptoms are double the number seen at this time last year. She said nearly 8 percent of emergency room visits are from patients with fevers, coughs, aches and other symptoms associated with flu.

Flu activity is highest in the central and northeast portions of the state.

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