The number of deaths caused by the flu virus this season recently rose to 1,800, 19 of whom were children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“All areas of the country saw an increase in flu activity for the week ending Dec. 14, with the highest flu activity clustered in 19 states, many of them in southern and western parts of the country,” ABC News reported.
The CDC estimated that there were at least 3.7 million cases of the illness and 32,000 people were hospitalized as a result.
“Activity is being caused mostly by influenza B/Victoria viruses, which is unusual for this time of year,” the agency said. “A(H1N1) viruses are the next most common and are increasing in proportion relative to other influenza viruses in some regions.”
However, the CDC also noted that it is not too late for individuals to get a flu shot to guard against the sickness:
Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications. Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all (>99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the U.S. this season.
Symptoms of the flu virus can be mild to severe, however, the sickness normally comes on quickly, the agency said.
The symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, and fatigue.
“Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death,” the agency’s website stated.
Dr. Jessica Grayson, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told reporters, “It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” adding, “We still have a lot of flu season left.”