Dec 23, 2014 12:06 AM EST
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning that this year's flu season could be one of the worst to date. The CDC issued a warning on Friday that the flu season has started earlier than expected and is spreading rapidly. Already reaching 29 of the 54 states and territories, this year's flu is spreading faster than previously seen. In comparison, at the same time last year, it had only spread to four states.
This alarming announcement was made following the deaths of eleven children this year due to the influenza virus. The CDC is encouraging those most vulnerable to the infection, such as children, the elderly and pregnant women. to take the necessary steps to prevent contracting the virus.
Federal health officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned the public that last year's vaccine will not provide the necessary protection, due to a new mutation in the influezna virus. In order to make sure you are protected from this latest mutation of the virus, patients must take the necessary precautions to acquire the latest vaccine from their doctors.
Dr. Carol J. Baker, executive director for the Center for Awareness and Research at Texas Children's Hospital, told NBC News, "[The] influenza vaccination is still the best way to prevent the flu - the vaccine is safe and flu kills."
Influenza, otherwise known as the flu is an infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. The most common symptoms include a high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing and feeling tired. However, while most cases will only last a few days, in more severe cases the influenza can last weeks-potentially even leading to death.
In order to help prevent yourself from becoming infected by the influenza virus, it is important to wash your hands regularly and stay away from people who might have the flu. In addition, see your doctor to get the latest flu vaccine, which is effective against this year's new mutated strain.
On average, influenza kills approximately 23,000 people each year although this figure varies depending on the length and severity of the flu season. However, with this year's flu season already in full swing, it is shaping up to be a tough year for healthcare professionals battling the virus.
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