Health officials warn of widespread flu cases

A spike in flu cases in New York and across the country has health officials urging people to get influenza vaccine if they haven't done so already. The New York State Health Department has confirmed a child has died of complications from the flu. It is the state's first pediatric flu death this season.

"I think one of the biggest reasons we are seeing some of the young people dying is because they're being misdiagnosed," Dr. Manny Alvarez, Fox News senior managing health editor, said. "Sometimes they have underlying medical conditions and they don't tend to go to a hospital or a doctor in a timely fashion. And by the time they go there, they already have secondary complications."

Alvarez said the flu season is worse this year than in other years.

"There have been tremendous pockets of people being hospitalized," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports influenza activity has spread to 46 U.S. states. The new numbers indicate a sharp increase during the final week of 2017.

Flu cases spiked the most in the South with the number expected to rise as we head into the peak of flu season. Texas is second only to Arkansas in the percentage of doctor visits linked to the flu.

Health professionals say one reason for the spike in cases may be that year's flu vaccine was not as effective as in other years. But doctors still insist you should get the flu vaccine. It is not too late.

"We are also seeing a lot of people dying from the flu," Alvarez said. "People tend to forget that thousands of people die annually from flu-related complications."

If you get the flu, stay home and rest so you don't spread it to other people. Health officials urge people in high-risk groups—babies, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems—to get vaccinated against the flu.