3 more flu-related deaths in Hong Kong

(The District of Columbia is an exception.) This week's data is also the first time the proportion of deaths linked to the flu and pneumonia has crossed what the CDC sets as its "epidemic" threshold.

Folk said if history repeats itself, the number of diagnosed flu cases will continue to rise over the next month or so.

"Flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now", Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza division, said during a media briefing Friday.

Those susceptible are the elderly, those who are very young or those with a weakened immune system.

In California, flu struck surprisingly early and hard this season.

"Even when there is a good match between the influenza strains that circulate and those that are used in the vaccine, there is a difference in its effectiveness", Werker explained.

More than 1,015 people have had the flu since the end of August, according to the DPH.

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"Most people will recover with rest and fluids, and are urged to call their doctor or nurse hotline, rather than visit an emergency department, where wait times may be long at this time", Los Angeles County public health officials said this week in a statement.

"Although influenza season usually peaks between December and February, flu activity can occur as late as May, which means it is not too late to get vaccinated".

Health professionals say one reason for the spike in cases may be that year's flu vaccine was not as effective as in other years.

Influenza can be prevented or its severity diminished with the flu vaccine.

The rate of hospitalizations for laboratory-confirmed cases of flu doubled last week, rising to 22.7 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, up from 13.7 the prior week. While it is possible that flu season peaked around the holidays and illnesses will gradually decline, it is also possible that the flu season could get even worse in 2018 before it gets better. CBS Chicago reported on a 10-year-old boy in the area who died New Year's Eve after the flu virus attacked his heart. The strain is considered especially unsafe to young children and older adults over the age of 65.

Basic measures such as washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, and coughing into sleeves or tissues can help stem the flu from spreading further.

Those in high-risk groups, including older adults, pregnant women and children, should be especially cautious in the midst of Dallas County's deadly outbreak, said Dr. Christopher Perkins, the county's medical director.

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