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SACRAMENTO (AP) - California health officials say that 243 people in the state have died from the flu this season, and authorities are investigating an additional 41 deaths this year as possibly flu-related.

The California Department of Public Health says 41 Californians died from the flu just this week.

Still, the San Jose Mercury News reports that the recent numbers show an overall statewide decline in the number of deaths this season, and that the number of hospitalizations are tapering back to normal levels.

State officials say that shows that 26 people had died from the flu by this time last year, about a quarter of the 106 reported through last year's entire flu season.

The dominant strain this season is the H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu. The strain seriously affects young and middle-aged people.

Many doctors urge people to get a flu shot. While it may not prevent people from getting the flu, it will lessen the effects of the symptoms on the body.