Flu season off to an early start; widespread in 7 states

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

Health officials say the 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 last month. By the end of last week, seven states reported widespread flu activity: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Virginia.

18 states reported regional flu activity and 18 states reported local influenza activity.  In New York City there has been minimal flu activity so far this season.

Puerto Rico, still dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane that devastated the island, is already experiencing a moderate outbreak of flu cases.

The death rate for patients with the flu has remained below the threshold the government set to declare an epidemic.

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.