U.S. flu outbreak is the worst in years

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Influenza-like illness (ILI) activity level indicator, week ending Feb 3, 2018. (CDC)

New York City health officials have confirmed that a third child has died from the flu. On Monday, officials announced the deaths of an 8-year-old girl from Queens and another unidentified child were likely from the flu virus as well.

This is the worst flu outbreak the United States has seen in years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its weekly update Friday. This outbreak is now at or above epidemic level and is as bad as the swine flu outbreak of 2009.

The CDC said 10 more children died from flu-related causes last week. More than 60 children have died since October. The CDC said that one out of every 10 deaths in the last week were from the flu, nearly 8 percent of all hospital visits were flu-related, and 48 states are experiencing widespread influenza activity. Oregon and Hawaii are the two exceptions.

And many doctors say the flu season hasn't peaked yet. The CDC expects the flu season to last at least another four to five weeks. Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News medical correspondent, also expects a few more weeks of peak flu activity. He also said that just because you've had the flu this season doesn't mean you won’t get it again. You can catch a different active strain.

Health officials say the flu shot remains your best protection even if it doesn't prevent the flu altogether, it can reduce the severity of your symptoms. It is not too late to get a flu shot, especially for children under 5, pregnant women, and people over 65.

But fighting this outbreak is proving to be more difficult. Pharmacies across the country are reporting shortages of Tamiflu antiviral medication and the flu vaccine.