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Germany

Flu Killed 20,000 Last Winter

Even as thousands of chickens are locked into cages to protect them and the people who eat them from the bird flu, it's the every day human flu that was responsible for thousands of deaths in Germany last year, according to the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. Continually underestimated by the public, the last flu season was responsible for as many as 20,000 deaths, the institute announced before recommending people get flu shots before the winter gets underway. Though the institute's Brunhilde Schweiger said it's impossible to forecast how serious the coming winter will be, the average flu season claims the lives of between 5,000 and 8,000 people. Germany experienced its worst flu wave in the winter of 1995/96, when influenza killed 30,000 people. The elderly, people suffering from asthma, and those who have heart problems or diabetes are at most risk and should definitely make a flu-shot appointment, according to institute officials.

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