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Dangerous flu strain is widespread in most states

Posted at 10:32 AM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 10:32:34-05

(KTLA/KXII/KSWB/Argosy/CNN) - This flu season is especially rough.

Millions of Americans caught the bug as widespread flu activity is reported in every state except Hawaii.

And, officials say things could get worse over the next few weeks.

The 2017-2018 flu season is classified as an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, roughly six percent of Americans have flu symptoms.

One of the areas hit especially hard: Texas.

"You know, flu is serious and it's widespread every year, but we've never had it hit like it has our campuses this year," school superintendent Jill Siler said.

At least 11 school districts in the Lone Star State were forced to close because of sick students.

"He came home yesterday with a fever, headache and a stomach ache, and so we went straight to quarantine," parent Morgan Waggoner said.

This flu season started early in Louisiana and Mississippi, quickly spreading across the country.

In some areas, like southern California, hospitals were so overwhelmed, triage tents were set up for flu patients.

The main strain this year is the vicious H3N2, which has been around in some form for decades.

It's part of the current flu vaccine, which is only expected to be about 30 percent effective this time around.

However, health officials still say Americans should roll up their sleeves and get a shot.

"I'm really concerned about how many people are opting not to vaccinate. Being vaccinated is going to assure you to have at least a shorter duration of illness and probably a milder flu," said Dr. Jennifer Dumas with American Family Care.

The CDC says the flu kills at least 12,000 people annually.

Copyright 2018 KTLA, KXII, KSWB, Argosy via CNN. All rights reserved.