First pediatric flu deaths for the season reported in Kentucky

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US health officials on Friday said plenty of people are getting sick, and the flu has hit epidemic levels - just as it does most winters.

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

Flu viruses circulate in the Southern Hemisphere before they hit the United States, so the flu season in Australia can predict how bad flu season will be in the U.S. Thus far, this season has had 10,324 lab-confirmed cases, compared to 1,352 last season. "Those four things you really get nearly always with the flu", Dr. Dreiling said.

This all serves as a reminder, Jernigan says, that while most people recover from flu after a few days, it can also lead to severe illness and death in others. "It is generally less for H3N2 than it is for H1N1 or influenza B".

Flu season is well on its way to peaking early.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, body aches, headaches and fatigue.

According to the National Institutes of Health, H3N2 viruses mutate and evolve more quickly than other strains, sometimes rendering vaccines less effective.

The flu vaccine used to fight this winter's outbreak is only working in 30-40% of cases, the director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre laboratory in London has told Sky News.

"It's already three to four times the normal flu season". "While it's important that these individuals get the flu vaccine, it's equally important that young and healthy Iowans be vaccinated so they don't spread the flu to others who may be at higher risk".

"Those most likely to get it, and to suffer a more severe illness, are the elderly or immunocompromised [long-term steroids, those on immune-modifying drugs or chemotherapy for instance], those with long-term health conditions, children and pregnant ladies". But local health departments that do count them are reporting that more people have died.

Kendall says if you're visiting loved ones in care homes this time of year, make sure to wash your hands, and delay your visit if you're sick.

Jernigan projected this year will be worse than the 2012-13 flu season, during which H3N2 was prevalent and there were about 56,000 estimated deaths. If you start on anti-viral medications within a day or two of when your symptoms start, your risk of serious disease, hospitalization and even death can be significantly reduced.

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