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 JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • UPDATE: High Drive brush fire now 100% contained

    UPDATE: High Drive brush fire now 100% contained

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:42 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:42:03 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Monday afternoon a brush fire broke out on the west side of Spokane's South Hill. The fire, which broke out around 3pm, was burning on the hill between High Drive and Qualchan Golf Course. By 9pm Monday night the fire was 100% contained. This does not necessarily mean the fire is totally out, but that crews are confident it won't spread and will be out soon.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Monday afternoon a brush fire broke out on the west side of Spokane's South Hill. The fire, which broke out around 3pm, was burning on the hill between High Drive and Qualchan Golf Course. By 9pm Monday night the fire was 100% contained. This does not necessarily mean the fire is totally out, but that crews are confident it won't spread and will be out soon.>>
  • 44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    44 Riverside homes destroyed or damaged in storm

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:46:53 GMT
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>
    RIVERSIDE, Wash. - Many families were still at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Riverside High School in Riverside this morning.An afternoon storm destroyed or damaged 44 of their homes and knocked down close to 100 trees in Riverside Village Mobile Home Park.Many residents said the storm looked like a tornado as it swept through their neighborhood.>>