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HEALTH DEPT. DOWNPLAYS 'FLULIKE' OUTBREAK

That flu going around is not "true flu," Dr. Arnold N. Lubin, Erie County health commissioner, said Monday.

"What we're seeing is the normal midwinter 'crud,' " he said. "It certainly is flulike, but it's not true flu yet."

Despite countless absences because of illness -- at local offices and holiday gatherings -- only one case of the real thing has been identified in Erie County so far this season, Lubin said, noting that area hospitals are swift in reporting cases of true flu.

"And we're not getting those calls yet," he emphasized. "We're not getting reports of anything in the way of true flu being identified. Just the one, and that was in the middle of last week."

The respiratory and/or stomach illnesses going around are reasonably mild compared with true flu, Lubin noted.

It's "a little early" to see this much flulike illness, he added.

It is not too late to have a flu shot, Lubin stressed. "If you haven't had one, there's still enough time," he said.

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