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How the government shutdown could affect flu season

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    Wednesday, October 2 2013 11:35 AM EDT2013-10-02 15:35:13 GMT
    This is the time of year we're used to hearing about the big flu forecast. The feds talk about what strains to look out for and how big or bad it could be, but for now you'll hear nothing from the CDC.
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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -

This is the time of year we're used to hearing about the big flu forecast.

The feds talk about what strains to look out for and how big or bad it could be, but for now you'll hear nothing from the Center for Disease Control.

The government shutdown in Washington won't affect most of us if it's a short one. While that's the bottom line, you may notice something missing: The flu forecast. It's is on hold because the CDC has been hit hard by the shutdown bug.

"We'll see if this is a week or two or longer, but we'll be without up-to-date information," says Dr. Joel Kahn of Michigan Healthcare Professionals, PC.

This is when the counties, states, and other organizations look to the feds for the annual report on whether the flu season will bite badly or not.

"The CDC would let us know what strains of flu it is," says Kahn. "Strains of flu can change. It may be H1, it may evolve and shift. We may not have that data as quickly."

But the county and state monitor the flu as well, so there is no need to panic.

"All the vaccines have already been prepared, and they're going to be the vaccine that people are going to get either way. Information that comes out of the CDC might cause you to do a more careful job of washing your hands, covering your mouth, avoiding people with illness so you don't get it," says Kahn.

Bottom line, just because right now the feds aren't tracking the flu doesn't mean they won't track it at all. They collect a lot of data from the counties and states across the country to put the data together and give a big picture of what's happening. But what happens in Ohio doesn't stay in Ohio. If the epidemic gets big there, people in Michigan should know about it.

That's not going to happen for now. Depending on how long the shutdown is, you may not hear much about it at all.

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