CDC: Flu "widespread" in Arkansas and the southeast
The flu is spreading in Arkansas and the southeast, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Widespread activity was reported in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state and Wyoming, according to the CDC's weekly flu advisory report, covering the week ending December 28.
"Widespread" means that more than 50 percent of geographic regions in a state -- counties, for example -- are reporting flu activity. It addresses the spread of the flu, not its severity.
So far this has been a typical season, according to experts. The only unusual thing seen this year is that the most common strain has been H1N1, which became known as swine flu during a 2009 outbreak. The strain has become increasingly common so it was included in this year's vaccination, according to Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the CDC's flu division.
Seven Arkansans have already died from the flu this season. Click here to hear the fiancé of an Arkansas flu victim encourage people to get the flu vaccine.
Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone six months and older, especially pregnant women and those at high risk of complications, including the elderly, children younger than five years and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes.