By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) – An unusually severe flu season has claimed the lives of at least 147 young and middle-aged people in California – 10 times the number killed by influenza viruses by the same time last year, public health officials said on Friday. The California deaths were caused by a strain of the influenza virus that is sending sufferers across the nation to the doctor for flu-like symptoms at rates that are 50 percent higher than normal, said Lyn Finelli, head of the influenza surveillance and outbreak response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “That’s way above the norm for flu,” Finelli said. “It tells us we’re still in the middle of flu season, and in the Northeast and California it’s going up, up, up.” The flu strain responsible for the California deaths, H1N1, also predominates nationwide this year. Read More..