After a relatively slow start to flu season, influenza activity is now widespread in nearly half of the United States. Last year was especially bad, as an estimated 80,000 people died from flu complications.
It’s been less severe so far this year, but federal health officials say they’re now seeing sharp increases in flu activity nationwide.
New Jersey has been especially hit hard with flu cases now high around the entire state. The CDC says the number of states experiencing widespread flu activity has now doubled to 24.
The dominating virus this flu season is H1N1, which tends to impact young, healthy adults and children. Thirteen children have died from the flu so far this season, including one in Missoula County.
Federal health officials say it’s still not too late to get a flu shot.
“It can prevent you from getting sick, and even if you do get sick with influenza, it can prevent you from having to go into the hospital. Among hospitalizations so far this year, the highest rates that we are seeing are in those who are under age 5,” said Dr. Daniel Jernigan.