Cases of the seasonal flu have reached epidemic levels, CDC says

By Pam Wright for Weather.com

Cases of the seasonal flu have reached epidemic levels across the country and at least three children have died from the virus, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that 10 states, including Alabama and Georgia in the South, Kansas and Oklahoma in the Midwest and New Jersey and New York in the East, are reporting high levels of people complaining of flu-like symptoms, while widespread flu activity was reported in 37 states.

The report says there are 15.4 flu-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the U.S. as of Jan. 21, with activity expected to rise.

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More than 144 millions doses of seasonal influenza vaccine have been distributed this year. The CDC says it's not too late to get vaccinated and recommends the vaccine, which can reduce flu illnesses and prevent flu-related hospitalization, for everyone 6 months and older.

Symptoms of influenza, which spreads across the U.S. from November through March, can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. The height of the season tends to occur in February.

If you develop symptoms, the CDC says antiviral drugs are a treatment option, particularly those at high risk, which include young children, the elderly and people suffering from asthma, diabetes or chronic heart disease.

While the number of those afflicted changes from year to year, the CDC reports that "millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year."

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