Flu season getting worse, as illness has 'lot more steam' than expected

The flu season that's already been the worst in nearly a decade is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, according to the latest report released Friday from the nation's health protection agency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu that is blanketing every state except Hawaii is growing more intense and deadly. So far this season, the flu has claimed the lives of at least 30 children, according to the latest CDC report.

"The peak of flu season is in February, so we have about a month for things to get worse," Dr. Manny Alvarez, Fox News Senior Managing Health Editor, said Sunday on "America's News HQ."

Thirty-two states reported high patient traffic last week, up from 26 the previous week. That is how the CDC gets a measure of the season based on how many doctor or hospital visits are because of cough or other flu symptoms. Overall, the health agency said it was the busiest week for flu symptoms in nine years.


"This is a season that has a lot more steam than we thought," Dr. Dan Jernigan with the CDC told the Associated Press.

The virus that's predominating this year is Influenza A (H3N2), and that tends to be more severe. It affects the elderly and the very young, epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer, who leads the CDC's Domestic Influenza Surveillance Team, told Fox News.

In a bad season, there are as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu. In the U.S., annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age 6 months or older. Alvarez said Sunday some of the best ways people can protect themselves are to get a flu shot, wash their hands, and hydrate themselves if they get sick.


The flu became intense last month in the U.S., and the last two weekly reports from the CDC show flu widespread over the entire continental United States, which is unusual.

In Oklahoma and Texas, some school districts canceled classes this week because so many students and teachers were sick with the flu and other illnesses.

In Washington state, flu deaths spiked dramatically in the last week, Q13 FOX reported. The Washington State Department of Health reported 86 deaths so far have been linked to the flu as of Friday.

In Mississippi, flu outbreaks have hit more than 100 nursing homes and other long-term care places, resulting in some restricting visitors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.