"The season is really starting to pick up", said Lynnette Brammer, the lead of CDC's domestic influenza surveillance team. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.
A number of young people have been admitted to intensive care units with flu this winter, according to the HSE, which warned that the peak of the virus was yet to come. IL has been experiencing a slightly higher activity level, earning "local activity" status, which indicates recent lab-confirmed influenza outbreaks in a single region and/or an increase in influenza-like illness cases.
Most hospitalizations have been in eastern Oklahoma, including 26 in the southeastern region. When that strain predominated, almost 1 million Americans were hospitalized and 80,000 died.
Louisiana is one of nine states (Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina and New York) with high flu activity.
It's too early to tell how severe this season will be or what the mix of viruses will be, Brammer said.
"We're getting about a half a percent each week, but we do expect that to increase", said Dr.More news: Vegas Play of the Day: Spurs vs. Raptors
"The numbers that we're seeing right now we would normally see at the end of January", she said.
Arkansas and Oklahoma have lost 21 people to the flu since September. Nationally 13 children have died from the flu, none of which were from Virginia. Wisconsin health officials say while the flu season is now mild, it hasn't reached its peak yet. "I expect activity to continue for several more weeks".
The flu vaccine only protects you from specific influenza A and B strains. The CDC recommends widespread vaccination as a cost-effective guard against pandemics.
Welch said most doctors have busy waiting rooms this time of the year, and the flu isn't the only thing they're treating. And this related to the history of people's exposure to flu.
"We strongly encourage anyone who hasn't received a flu vaccine, particularly children six months and older and those people at high risk for complications related to the flu, to get a flu shot", said Jeff Howard, M.D., commissioner of DPH. To avoid catching the flu, get vaccinated each year and practice good hand hygiene.