KHQ MD ALERT: Flu Season Could Be A Bad One, Health Officials Sa - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KHQ MD ALERT: Flu Season Could Be A Bad One, Health Officials Say

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - This year's flu season has kicked in early, with activity up significantly across the nation, particularly in the south and southeast, federal health officials say.

"It looks like it's shaping up to be a bad flu season," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The percentage of aching, feverish folks who went to the doctor with influenza-like illness had reached the national baseline of 2.2 percent, the earliest that has happened in the regular flu season in nearly a decade, the 2003-2004 season. Flu season may start as early as October, but typically peaks in January or later.

Five states reported high levels of flu activity -- Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Widespread activity was reported in four states, regional activity was seen in seven states and 19 states reported local flu activity, CDC officials said. That was up from eight states that reported local flu activity the previous week.

By contrast, last year's flu season started late, with an uptick in cases not starting until February. 

Health officials are urging people to get their flu shots now, including babies older than six months, and all adults and children. Every year, about a quarter of the U.S. population gets the flu and an average of about 36,000 people die.

The strains making people sick are influenza A -- both H3N2 and the 2009 H1N1 or pandemic swine flu strain -- and influenza B. So far, the vaccines manufactured for this season appear to be a good match, health officials said. 

About 120 million doses of flu vaccine are available this year, Frieden said. About 112 million people have received their flu shots so far, officials said. 

The key to avoiding the flu is getting the shot, the experts said. 

"We are particularly encouraging people who haven't gotten vaccinated to do it," said Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director of the CDC's Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS: 10-year-old goldfish has surgery to remove tumor

    PHOTOS: 10-year-old goldfish has surgery to remove tumor

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:39 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:39:15 GMT
    KHQ.COM - You could say that George the Goldfish is one lucky fish. When George's owners who were reportedly "very attached to him," learned that George had a life-threatening tumor, instead of putting him down or waiting for nature to take its course, they opted for a life-saving operation to save little George's life.>>
    KHQ.COM - You could say that George the Goldfish is one lucky fish. When George's owners who were reportedly "very attached to him," learned that George had a life-threatening tumor, instead of putting him down or waiting for nature to take its course, they opted for a life-saving operation to save little George's life.
    >>
  • Remembering Beau Weiher: Montana man dies in Glacier National Park

    Remembering Beau Weiher: Montana man dies in Glacier National Park

    Monday, September 15 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-09-15 21:01:41 GMT
    WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) - A 22-year-old Montana man has died, possibly after attempting an illegal BASE jump in Glacier National Park. The National Park Service was notified at Saturday night that Beau Weiher, of Missoula, was overdue from a solo day hike in the Many Glacier Area.>>
    WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) - A 22-year-old Montana man has died, possibly after attempting an illegal BASE jump in Glacier National Park. The National Park Service was notified at Saturday night that Beau Weiher, of Missoula, was overdue from a solo day hike in the Many Glacier Area.>>
  • WATCH: Rarely seen 9/11 Budweiser commercial that aired only once

    WATCH: Rarely seen 9/11 Budweiser commercial that aired only once

    Thursday, September 11 2014 8:52 PM EDT2014-09-12 00:52:54 GMT
    KHQ.COM - This Budweiser commercial was produced after the September 11th terrorist attacks. However, it hasn't been widely seen because Budweiser only aired it once so as not to benefit financially from it - they just wanted to acknowledge the tragic event.>>
    KHQ.COM - This Budweiser commercial was produced after the September 11th terrorist attacks. However, it hasn't been widely seen because Budweiser only aired it once so as not to benefit financially from it - they just wanted to acknowledge the tragic event.>>