Cold and flu season typically peaks in the United States in January and February, however, the flu has arrived early this year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC data shows elevated flu activity in all parts of the country. Thousands of people have been hospitalized with the flu, and 15 children have died from it so far, according to an NBC News report.
Most infections are caused by a strain called H3N2 this year, and two-thirds of them are a strain that is not included in this year’s flu vaccine. There are also a few cases of H1N1 and two types of influenza B.
To date, the Southeast, New Jersey, and some parts of the Midwest have been hardest hit by the flu. Influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported in nine states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia.
Flu hits babies, elderly people, and those with underlying health conditions such as asthma most severely, and kills upward of 4,000 people each year. Many of the children who become sick enough to require hospitalization for flu were healthy when they contracted the virus.