Health officials: 15 deaths, 'high level' of hospitalizations reported from flu

Flu activity becomes widespread in Willmar area

"Flu activity has been very high around the country this season and is widespread in Tennessee right now", Chambers said.

As of the week ending January 6, there have been 1,015 positive cases of the flu in CT, with 456 hospitalizations since late August.

Experts try to predict each year which flu strains will be prevalent for the season, she said, but at times they get it wrong or the virus changes during the season.

The CDC expects the 2017-2018 flu epidemic is shaping up to be the most deadly since 2009-2010 swine flu epidemic that killed 284,000 people worldwide and 657 Californians.

At Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, waiting rooms turned into exam areas as a medical tent was built in order to deal with the surge of patients.

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The Department of Public Health says flu activity in Kentucky is "widespread" for the fourth consecutive week. There have been no reported flu-related deaths in El Dorado County.

Los Angeles County health officials this week reported 36 deaths this flu season, compared to 13 people for the same time previous year. A Houston doctor said local hospital beds were at capacity, telling flu sufferers they might be better off staying at home.

CT is expected to be four-to-six weeks away from peak influenza activity, which will probably be in mid-February.

These numbers only represent those cases that have been reported to Public Health and Human Services as laboratory confirmed cases, so the exact number of cases is unknown. Day said Friday the most recent total he had for influenza cases in Kentucky ran through December 30, when 1,411 cases were confirmed. At the end of the flu season in 2014, a total of 2,399 flu cases were reported.

The total number of flu cases in the state at the end of a year ago was at 71,469.

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CHOA is now under visitor restrictions to protect patients from the cold and flu season, a spokeswoman said. "There are no flu vaccine shortages across Ohio". Flu vaccination is the most effective protection against flu and since the flu season typically runs until late spring, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

"The most important thing people can do to help our family and loved ones is to get the vaccination rates up", Teacutter said.

"The most common flu strain identified in Kentucky and in the 36 deaths is Influenza A", added Department for Public Health's State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jonathan Ballard. Other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu include: "washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick".

The most widely circulating flu strain, Type A, subtype H3N2, is this year's most unsafe.

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