Flu season in the United States is usually in the wintertime between September and May. In a normal year, about 2-6% of people who get the flu are sick enough to see a doctor — but this year, the percentage has already risen above 13%, meaning that people are feeling very ill.
The research was led by Roni Rosenfeld at Carnegie Mellon University, who said:
This is really record-breaking. In the last 20 years [the estimated number of people presenting flu symptoms] hasn’t reached that height. It’s the highest it’s been this early in the season, and it’s the highest it’s been period.”
On January 2, 2018, Dallas County health officials reported a sixth death from the flu. While it is possible that flu season peaked around the holidays and illnesses will gradually decline, it is also possible that the flu season could get even worse in 2018 before it gets better.
Health officials in Dallas County are still recommending the flu shot for everyone over 6 months old.
The flu shot for the 2017-2018 flu season is well-matched to the viruses that are circulating around the world, but it is not very effective in preventing illnesses with the most severe types of flu.
Australia was hit with an unusually bad flu season, with far more illnesses and deaths than average. Flu viruses circulate in the Southern Hemisphere before they hit the United States, so the flu season in Australia can predict how bad flu season will be in the U.S.