Rome, November 26 - Influenza-like symptoms are clobbering Italians at an estimated rate of 50,000 per week, Italy's public health institute reported on Monday in its news bulletin Influnet. Since surveillance began about a month ago, 178,000 cases have been reported of influenza and para-influenza - the name given to influenza-like symptoms caused by other viruses. "Influenza syndrome" is a term used to include both influenza and para-influenza. Influenza syndrome is currently following an epidemic curve "comparable to past influenza seasons," reported the Italian public health observatory. Influenza syndrome in Italy last week hit an average of 0.83 people per 1,000, but struck young children at more than triple that rate. Children ages four years old and younger experienced flu symptoms at a rate of 2.59 per 1000. All 27 members of the European Union have seen influenza syndrome enter their borders so far this autumn. In an analysis of 416 "sentinel" cases across the EU, only 3% of the illnesses were caused by a true influenza virus.