Flu vaccine off to a quick start; positive cases up 6 percent in the past week

The flu-like illnesses reported for the week ending Dec. 16 are highlighted in this tracking map from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Courtesty of the CDC)

This year's flu season is off to a quick start and so far it seems to be dominated by a nasty bug.

The number of patients testing positive for the virus across the U.S. jumped nearly 6 percent in the past week.

Most of those cases are south of Michigan. The heaviest hit include Texas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Arizona.

In the past week Michigan has seen low levels of flu activity, but experts said the holidays could change those numbers, with many people heading in and out of state, visiting friends and family.

If you haven't already, doctors recommend getting the vaccine.

"You can end up with pneumonia. You feel very tired. Fatigued. You have high fever. When you have the flu you're basically non-functional,” said Amy Kisner, a physician at the LakeAfterHours urgent care center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Flu season continues through spring, but December through February are the months with the highest activity.

Health officials also said this week that the current flu vaccine seems well matched to the viruses making people sick, but it's too early to tell how bad this season will be. The main flu bug this season tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations and vaccines tend not to work as well against this type.

Flu began picking up in November. By the end of last week, seven states reported widespread flu activity: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Most flu seasons don't really get going until around Christmas. That's how last year's flu season played out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the latest data Friday.

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