Flu season has arrived in the U.S. — and it looks like it's back with a vengeance this year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of states reporting widespread seasonal flu more than doubled last week. (Via WRTV)
In an influenza summary update posted to its website Friday, the CDC reports 25 states are reporting widespread flu activity as of Dec. 28. That's 15 more states than the previous week's report.
And when the CDC says "widespread,"
"That means half of the geographic regions, like counties, are reporting activity." (Via CNN)
Right now, it looks like the most severe flu activity seems to be in southern states.
North Carolina has reported 13 flu-related deaths, Hidalgo County in Texas has six, and Salt Lake City, Utah, has lost two people to the virus. Six children have died nationwide. (Via WHDH)
But the flu is definitely on the move and spreading upwards to the rest of the U.S. Doctors say the type of strain is a cause for concern. (Via HLN)
"The majority of the cases attributed to the H1N1 virus that caused a worldwide pandemic back in 2009." (Via Fox News)
Last year, H3N2, which tended to cause serious illness or death in older people, was the dominant strain. But with H1N1 back in full force, this year is expected to be very different.
The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy told USA Today, "We fully expect to see many more cases in younger children and middle-aged adults. Mark my word, by the end of next week we'll probably see some fear and panic as it starts to hit kids."
Fortunately, this year's flu vaccine contains the H1N1 strain and should protect against the virus pretty well. Doctors, of course, recommend getting a flu shot to protect against this kind of virus.