The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported a marked increase in the number of Americans visiting doctors with flu-like symptoms - the highest level of activity for the flu since the 'swine flu" - H1N1, pandemic of 2009, which killed 203,000 people worldwide.
Hospitalizations in a one-week-period soared to 12,000, surpassing a previous week total by 3, ooo and the numbers appear to be surpassing the 2014-15 flu season, when 34 million Americans got the flu, 710,000 were hospitalized and 56,000 died, including 148 pediatric deaths.
Outbreaks of this years influenza have been reported all over the United States (US), except in the state of Hawaii. This year's flu strain - H3N2, or the "Hong Kong flu", first emerged in 1968. Thirty-seven pediatric deaths have been attributed to the virus so far this year and the season is far from being over.
Schools have been closed in some states due to the flu and some hospitals are dissuading casual visitations of the hospitalized for fear of wider contamination. Children, mothers and young adults have died in this flu outbreak. While the elderly, those over 65, remain most susceptible to the flu, infants, who normally would make-up the next more affected group, have been replaced by "Baby Boomers", those 50-64, as the second most affected group of this year's flu.
More alarming, however, is that medical authorities are beginning to recognize a second strain of the flu in this current season.
A flu shot, an inoculation, offers some protection from the illness, yet the rudiments of washing hands and other basic hygiene procedures, do offer additional protections from contracting the current virus.