Widespread flu activity growing nationwide

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Widespread flu activity growing nationwide - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on January 18, 2018. (WPVI)

The flu is picking up steam in our area. In Pennsylvania, the number of flu-related deaths nearly doubled in just the past week.

With the numbers climbing, chances are you probably know someone who has the flu or who had it last week.

The CDC map shows Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware are all now reporting widespread flu activity.

Experts say so far the season is "moderately severe." But it's hitting some communities especially hard.

Inside this small elementary school in Texas, hallways are quiet and there's a lot of empty desks. About one-third of the students are home sick, either with the flu or other viruses.

"The flu has always been severe but we have never seen it like this. I've been cleaning all day long," said the school nurse.

As the nurse kept seeing sick kids, the superintendent there decided to shut down school for a week.

Experts this flu season is "moderately severe." The number of people sick or dying from the flu isn't unusually high, but the predominant strain, H3-N2, can be a dangerous one.

The flu isn't just a bad cold. It can be deadly, even for healthy people and kids.

Twelve-year-old Michael Messenger of Michigan went from having minor symptoms to a crisis in hours.

"When I came into his room, he was on the floor. His eyes were open and he was looking at me. The only way I can describe it is a fish out of water trying to breathe," said Michael's mom, Jessica Decent-Doll.

Michael died at the hospital a few hours later.

Even in a mild year, the flu kills about 12,000 Americans.

Many of the people with complications from the flu are elderly or have chronic medical problems, but it's also very dangerous for pregnant women, kids under five and kids with asthma.

But for everyone, if you have a severe symptoms, you should seek medical care.

And as for the flu shot, it is still worth getting one, if you haven't already. The flu season stretches into the Spring and sometimes different strains come around at different times.

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