Blistering pace - See how the flu season swept across the U.S. this season
CHICAGO — The influenza virus hit the United States earlier and harder than expected this year. By early January more than half the states in the country were reporting high levels of influenza activity. The flu claimed more than 100 lives in Illinois alone where 667 people were hospitalized by Feb. 23, the most current figures.
The maps above show the progression of this year's flu in each state, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC has reported a steady decline in flu activity in most U.S. regions, but 12 states still show "widespread" activity. The CDC considers statewide outbreaks as widespread.
The most common strains of flu this year include influenza A, which is also known as H3N2, and influenza B. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against both strains. Overall, the vaccine was 56 percent effective, which the CDC considers a good grade. People who are vaccinated and contract the flu generally have milder symptoms and a shorter duration of the illness.
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