This year the flu is especially hard-hitting, with the number of reported influenza-related deaths last week doubling to a season-to-date total of 91. In the 2013-2014 season, there were only 1,540 hospitalizations and nearly the same exact number in the 2015-2015 season at 1,541.
So far 43 schools and 55 long-term care facilities in the state have reported outbreaks, though epidemiologists note those numbers only reflect the cases that were bad enough to force a clinic or hospital visit-meaning thousands more cases are likely going uncounted.
"Influenza vaccine is still available and people can still get immunized. Flu can easily circulate through April and beyond".
The two strains of flu making the rounds are A and B, and current levels of influenza B are showing up much earlier than usual.
"With the increase in influenza impacting many communities across the entire state, it is important to get a flu shot now if you have not done so already", said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.
The Department of Health says the majority of the deaths so far have been in people older than 65 with underlying conditions.
This time of year is usually associated with flu season.
Chen tells FOX 12 that in order to avoid overcrowding, patients should call their doctors as soon as they get flu-like symptoms.
Out of the 427 cases of students with flu-like symptoms, 118 cases were confirmed with the flu since the beginning of the school year.
In the previous season, 219 people died in North Carolina from the flu.
"The best way to stop the spread of flu is to follow simple hygiene practices". Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. People who become severely ill with flu-like symptoms should seek medical care.
Arizona hospitals statewide continue to experience long emergency room wait times due to the increased number of sick Arizonans.
Influenza B is a strain that only affects humans, meaning it can't spread from species to species, like bird flu and swine flu - both A strains. Unity Point Finley Hospital in Dubuque and Mercy Medical Centers in Dubuque and Dyersville are restricting visitation from all children under 14 and anyone with flu-like symptoms. If you don't have insurance, the Minnesota Vaccines for Children program and the Uninsured and Underinsured Adult Vaccine program provide free or low-priced vaccines.
To help reduce the risk of catching or spreading the flu, health officials are encouraging frequent hand-washing throughout the day.