Cold and flu map

Flu Symptoms & Complications

Flu Complications

Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either influenza virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Flu virus infection of the respiratory tract can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have flu, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get sick with flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.

Flu outbreak with second strain could last until May: What you need to know

While this year’s flu season hasn’t been as brutal as past years, health experts say we still aren’t in the clear — a more severe strain now accounts for nearly half of all new cases, and flu season could linger until May.

A different strain of the flu virus, a “variant” virus, now accounts for 46.9 percent of cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. That could mean an increase in sickness: Even though more people were vaccinated this year compared to last, the current immunization protects better against the main strain, H1N1, and not as well against H3N2 viruses, according to data released Friday.

Here’s what you need to know:

Strains of flu

There are four types of influenza viruses, and then subtypes of those. This flu season, health experts are mostly seeing H1N1 and H3N2 viruses. The H3 virus is considered more severe, according to the CDC.

“It looks like we are moving from an H1 wave to an H3 wave,” said Lynnette Brammer, lead of CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team, HealthDayNews reports. “There’s still a lot of flu to come.”

Vaccines are still the best way to prevent both strains of flu. This year’s vaccine is 62 percent effective against H1N1 and 44 percent effective against H3N2, Brammer, told HealthDayNews.

How long is flu season?

While the timing of flu season varies each year, the CDC estimates viruses gear up in October and November and continue as late as May. Peak flu season is typically December through February.


Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms hit suddenly — within a matter of hours. Symptoms include fever, feverish chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and tiredness. Children with the flu could also vomit and have diarrhea, according to the CDC.

But, here’s the kicker: It’s impossible to know whether you have the flu based on symptoms alone. The only way to tell for sure is to take a laboratory test, but that’s not always needed for treatment.

More:Flu is widespread in US with 7.3 million people sick, but experts see a milder season

Flu deaths

Last week, an elementary school girl in Ohio died the same day she was diagnosed with flu and strep throat. While flu complications are rare, they do happen. This year, up to 22,300 adults have died of the flu and hundreds of thousands have been hospitalized. More than 40 children have died.

More:Fourth-grader dies same day she’s diagnosed with flu, strep throat: ‘Our hearts are completely broken’

Signs of a deadly illness

The flu can cause complications that later turn fatal. Examples include pneumonia; inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues; and multiple organ failure. Flu can also make chronic medical problems worse, including asthma and chronic heart disease.

Children younger than 5, senior citizens, pregnant women, American Indians and Alaska Natives are the most at risk for serious flu-related complications, the CDC says.

If you think you have the flu and are at high risk of developing complications, the CDC recommends visiting a doctor.

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

VERIFY: Yes, in terms of illness, this flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in a decade


Is this flu season predicted to be one of the worst in a decade?


Yes, in terms of the number of people getting sick and going to the doctor.
No, in terms of number of hospitalizations and deaths.


Dr. Anthony Fauci – director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health

Lynette Brammer- lead of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Domestic Influenza Surveillance team

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “2017-2018 Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths and Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Averted by Vaccination in the United States”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 2019-2020 outpatient illness surveillance


If there’s one truism about the flu, it’s that it’s unpredictable. Still it’s better to be prepared.

Between Oct. 1, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020, at least 9.7 million people became ill with influenza, at least 87,000 have been hospitalized and 4,800 have died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of those who died, 32 of them were children.

Lots of people are talking about this flu season coming in particularly strong, and claiming on social media that this flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in a decade.

So we’re verifying: Is that true?

Our verify researchers spoke with two of the top flu experts in the country: Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, and Lynette Brammer who heads the CDC’s Domestic Influenza Surveillance team.

In terms of the actual number of those falling ill with the flu: yes.

“We can say that it is on course of being at least as bad as the worst two seasons we’ve had in the last ten years,” Fauci said.

Take a look at this graph from the CDC, tracking the percentage of people visiting the doctor for the flu. That turquoise line is from two years ago.


That skyrocketing red line is the percent of patient visits this year so far.

“If you look at illnesses, there’s a lot of people sick, and illness is very similar to what we saw in 2017-2018 which was a really, really bad year,” Brammer said. “But if you look at our indicators of severeness, hospitalizations and death, those aren’t high.”

So yes, we can Verify, in terms of people going to the doctor for the flu, this year is shaping up to be one of the worst in a decade.

Brammer explained that this flu virus is very different from the virus we saw two years.

The one predominately circulating now is Influenza B, which impacts children heavily but not the elderly.

“In general, children drive illness, they go to the doctor a lot more,” Brammer said. “But the people that get hospitalized and die from influenza, largely are people of 65 years of age, and if they’re not impacted by the flu that’s circulating, you see what were seeing this year. You see a lot of illness which is children, but you don’t see much hospitalization or death.”

The virus going around in 2017-2018 was H3N2, which largely affects the elderly, and led to many hospitalizations and deaths.

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These Are the 10 Worst States for the Flu

It might be the holiday season, but it’s also flu season. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) notes that cases of the virus peak between December and February. And health care providers have plenty of reason to be concerned, given that nearly 45 million Americans came down with the flu between October 2018 and February 2019.

But how much does location play a part in just how susceptible you are to falling ill? In an effort to examine this, took a look at the CDC’s flu stats from the past six years. Let’s take a look at their conclusions on the worst states for the flu.

Using the CDC’s weekly flu season numbers from the past six years, specifically recorded in February, which is considered to be the absolute peak of peak flu season, then assigned weighted scores for minimal, low, moderate and high flu outbreak weeks in every state. They then added up the numbers to determine the 10 worst states for the flu ahead of the 2019-2020 flu season.

The Top 10 Worst States for Flu

According to’s number-crunching, these are the 10 worst states for coming down with the virus.

10. New Mexico

According to the site, New Mexico was one of the first states to be hardest hit during the 2018-2019 flu season. They’ve also seen more “high” peak flu level weeks since 2013 than all but five other states and has rated “high” for 17 of the past 18 peak flu season weeks—more than any other state.

  • RELATED: This Is the Best Time to Get the Flu Shot

9. New Jersey points out that while in past years, the flu had spread sporadically throughout the Garden State, levels this season seem to be affecting all regions of the state.

8. Alabama

During the 2018-2019 season, flu patients filled more than 90 percent of hospital beds in seven of Alabama’s eight public health districts, according to’s report. And this year, as of October, every county in north Alabama showed an uptick in flu-related illness, and cases are expanding down to the Gulf.

7. Louisiana

Between 2013 and 2016, the flu danger level in Louisiana was rated at minimal, low or moderate 11 out of 12 weeks, the report notes. But since then, flu levels have jumped up to “high” 15 of the last 16 peak flu season weeks. This fall, Louisiana was already ranked with the highest level of flu cases in the U.S.

6. Mississippi finds that last year, the peak of the flu season hit around the end of February, much later than in previous years in Mississippi. But year prior, peak struck around Christmas, a much more usual time for the state.That said, the state is vulnerable for early peak, late peak, or anytime in between.

  • RELATED: Doctors Urge Families to Get Their Flu Shots as the Season Begins Earlier Than Usual

5. Kansas

Since 2013, Kansas has experienced 20 “high” condition flu season weeks, the fourth most of any state in the union, the report states.

4. Arkansas

In 2018-2019, flu-related deaths in the state of Arkansas were the highest in nearly two decades, according to What’s more, the state had an issue with false positives, sending infected people back to home and school believing they were A-OK.

3. Connecticut

The only New England state on the list saw the first flu-related deaths in early November, one in Litchfield and one in Fairfield.

2. Oklahoma

Last season, more than 60 Oklahomans died from the flu, with another 2,500 hospitalized in what was the longest flu season in a decade.

1. Texas

Perhaps because it’s the second most populated state in the U.S., the Lone Star State landed in the top spot as the worst state for the flu, according to the report. The CDC reported 23 widespread flu activity weeks in Texas out of the 30 peak flu season weeks tracked since 2013, with just one week rated as “low.”

  • RELATED: Everything You Need To Know About Getting The Flu Shot While Pregnant

The Bottom Line

In’s list of all 50 states, you can see where your state falls, as well as the number of weeks it had high, moderate, and low flu activity.

Ultimately, no matter where you reside, there’s a risk. Getting vaccinated for the 2019-2020 flu season will protect you and your kids against the strains that are circulating now.

Here’s where influenza hits especially hard, and what you can do to help protect yourself from it.

The flu is a monster. The contagious illness caused by influenza viruses has resulted in between 9 million and 45 million illnesses and up to 810,000 hospitalizations in the last decade. Since 2010, between 12,000 and 61,000 have died each year from the flu.

And that’s nothing compared to 1918 to 1919, when an influenza pandemic killed more people in absolute numbers than any other disease outbreak in history. Recent research puts the death toll as probably 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million. Adjusting for population, that toll today would be comparable to 175 to 350 million.

While thankfully we have learned a lot about the flu since those devastating early pandemics, it is still a beast. Looking at the numbers from the last decade, we can see that the last season for which there is confirmed data was a doozy.Centers for Disease Control/Public Domain

Flu viruses are around all year in the United States, but ilnesses are most common during the fall and winter, with activity beginning to creep up in October and usually peaking in February.

Living in New York City, where winter is cold and people pack themselves tightly into moving metal boxes underground and sneeze on each other, I always figured we had it especially rough when it comes to catching the flu. But data from a report at Apartment Guide shows that New York isn’t the worst place for the flu. And in fact, the states that are hit hardest are a bit of a surprise; they are generally ones with warmer weather and less people piled on top of one another.

The ranking relies on U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) February flu season numbers – then each state was assigned weighted scores for low, moderate and high flu outbreak weeks to determine the 10 worst states. Here is what they found:

Weeks of high flu activity: 17
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 3
Weeks of low flu activity: 5

Weeks of high flu activity: 14
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 8
Weeks of low flu activity: 5

Weeks of high flu activity: 19
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 3
Weeks of low flu activity: 2

Weeks of high flu activity: 16
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 6
Weeks of low flu activity: 6

Weeks of high flu activity: 19
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 3
Weeks of low flu activity: 3

Weeks of high flu activity: 20
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 2
Weeks of low flu activity: 5

Weeks of high flu activity: 21
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 2
Weeks of low flu activity: 2

Weeks of high flu activity: 19
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 8
Weeks of low flu activity: 2

Weeks of high flu activity: 22
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 2
Weeks of low flu activity: 5

Weeks of high flu activity: 23
Weeks of moderate flu activity: 5
Weeks of low flu activity: 1

Meanwhile, New York was number 14 – and the best state for the flu was Maine, cold wintry Maine, with zero weeks of high flu activity, four weeks of moderate and two weeks of low. The flu is a fickle thing.

So what to do if you live in one of these super flu-friendly states? Or, actually, any state, given that the flu is so awful? The CDC says, the “first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.”

After that, employ commonplace illness-prevention strategies, like, avoid sick people and wash your hands not only frequently, but properly. (Here’s how: Everything you need to know about the ‘DIY vaccine’ against illness.)

To see how your state ranked, visit Apartment Guide.

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What’s going on here? “The flu season started early, it started vigorously, and cases and hospitalizations have been surging up as though it were a rocket,” Dr. Schaffner says. “It looks as though it will be on track to be a very severe season, and there’s no sign of a downturn yet.”

Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, agrees. “The cases have been going up and up but, the question is, when it will go down?” he says. “We are on track to have a season like the 2017-2018 season, which was severe.” During the 2017-2018 flu season, approximately 900,000 people were hospitalized and 80,000 people died due to flu complications.

This season has been dominated by a form of the flu called influenza B, “which is completely odd,” Dr. Schaffner says, since influenza B doesn’t typically create large outbreaks. H1N1 flu viruses are also starting to rise and “we may have a double-barrel season of influenza B followed by H1N1,” Dr. Schaffner says. “We have all these odd ingredients coming together so that we have, at this juncture, an awful lot of flu with the potential for being as bad as our last bad year, if not worse.”

What can you do to prevent the flu?

If you haven’t had your flu shot, now is not the time to hesitate. “Do not walk—run and get your flu shot if you haven’t been vaccinated yet,” Dr. Schaffner says. “It takes up to two weeks for your protection to build up.”

Practicing good hand hygiene is also crucial, Dr. Adalja says. Use soap and water, scrub for at least 20 seconds, and make sure to get between your fingers and underneath your nails. When soap isn’t available, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer in a pinch is fine.

If you can, Dr. Schaffner recommends doing your best to avoid people who are coughing and sneezing. Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth to avoid germs from entering your body.

If you start to come down with flu-like symptoms, like a sore throat, cough, fever, chills, and fatigue, Dr. Schaffner says it’s best to talk to your doctor. They may prescribe an anti-viral like Tamiflu, which can lower the risk you’ll develop serious complications from the illness.

Like what you just read? You’ll love our magazine! Go here to subscribe. Don’t miss a thing by downloading Apple News here and following Prevention. Oh, and we’re on Instagram too.

Korin Miller Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more.

Everyday Health Flu Map

How does this flu forecast map work?

By entering your zip code, you can find out what influenza conditions may be like in your county in the weeks ahead.

Our methodology takes into account current and historical CDC data; rising and falling interest in flu on Twitter and other social media platforms, and in online searches; and local and regional weather information. The flu map predicts flu severity county by county across the United States so you can plan ahead and take precautions to avoid the flu – both at home and in places where you plan to travel.

Here’s more information on flu.

Common Symptoms of the Flu To Look Out For

Influenza symptoms typically include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Fatigue

Learn More About Common Symptoms of the Flu to Look Out For

More About the Flu

For details on these symptoms and more, go to:

  • Flu Report: What to Know About the 2019–2020 Flu Season
  • Cold and Flu 101
  • What You Need to Know About the CDC’s Flu Vaccine Guidelines
  • Flu Experts Urge Vaccination, Warn of ‘Post-Flu Illness’
  • Number of Children Missing Critical Vaccines Continues to Rise
  • Researchers Hope Universal Flu Vaccine Trials May Yield Broader Protection
  • Cold Vs. Flu: How to Tell the Difference in Your Symptoms
  • How Long Does the Flu Last
  • The Flu: Self-Treat, See a Doctor, or Go to the ER?

Last Updated: 12/6/2019

Courtesy WebMD

WebMD offers an interactive tool that allows you to see how severe cold and flu symptoms are in state and local areas.

Curious about how your state or local area is fairing in the ongoing flu outbreak? Online maps are available to give you a better sense of conditions near you.

The medical-information site WebMD offers an interactive tool that allows you to see how severe cold and flu symptoms are in state and local areas.

Just click on your state or input your ZIP code to get a local view. The data are based on user entries into WebMD’s Symptom Checker and include severity ratings on symptoms such as cough, sore throat and nasal congestion. Articles on the site also contain tips on prevention and dealing with cold and flu symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates a weekly influenza activity map that directs consumers to state health departments for local information. The data are based on weekly influenza activity estimates reported by state and territorial epidemiologists. In addition, the CDC offers a FluView report, which allows the public to access influenza information online that’s been collected by the agency’s monitoring systems.

Health officials are saying the flu season is shaping up to be a particularly severe one, with the number of cases reported at nearly four times the number of influenza cases at the same time last year.

“This is a bad bug,” Dr. Daniel Jernigan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Division, said. “What we’re seeing this year, the influenza season started earlier and seems to be peaking right about now. That’s about a month earlier than it normally would be peaking,” he said, “so lots of cases are happening, in lots of states, all at the same time.”

H3N2 is the strain of flu that has been seen most this season, and it has proven to be a deadly strain. At least 60 children have died from the flu this year.

“In years when there is H3N2, we do see that there are more deaths,” Jernigan said.

The CDC tracks information about the spread of the flu using data sent from state health departments to create and maintain an “influenza surveillance map.” The map shows the number of flu cases reported to each state’s health department and where the flu is hitting the hardest.

Below are the links to each state’s health department, where localized information about influenza can be found. Click on the website and look for a listing called “Surveillance Reports,” or “Surveillance Maps,” then look for the week’s report to give you the latest information.

on this year’s flu, and here for information for parents about children and the flu.

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Florida
  11. Georgia
  12. Hawaii
  13. Idaho
  14. Illinois
  15. Indiana
  16. Iowa
  17. Kansas
  18. Kentucky
  19. Louisiana
  20. Maine
  21. Maryland
  22. Massachusetts
  23. Michigan
  24. Minnesota
  25. Mississippi
  26. Missouri
  27. Montana
  28. Nebraska
  29. Nevada
  30. New Hampshire
  31. New Jersey
  32. New Mexico
  33. New York
  34. North Carolina
  35. North Dakota
  36. Ohio
  37. Oklahoma
  38. Oregon
  39. Pennsylvania
  40. Rhode Island
  41. South Carolina
  42. South Dakota
  43. Tennessee
  44. Texas
  45. Utah
  46. Vermont
  47. Virginia
  48. Washington
  49. West Virginia
  50. Wisconsin
  51. Wyoming

CHICAGO – OCTOBER 12: Robert Garner, 71, receives a flu shot, offered free by the city of Chicago from registered nurse Betty Lewis October 12, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. In a switch from recent years, vaccine makers are expected to produce an ample supply, with plans for distribution of more than 100 million doses nationwide by January, according to health officials. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images) Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images

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Contribute to your community’s health and help track the flu. Map Style: .. in reported severe cases of influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 – Arizona, – Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus. You can get norovirus from. Symptoms include: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, head and body ache. Dehydration is an important symptom and result of stomach flu which .

Prevention and Control of Acute Gastroenteritis Outbreaks in Wisconsin .. Plotting ill residents on a facility map to identify increased GI illness and spread of .. LTCF AGE Outbreaks/ LTCFs by State Public Health Region, The map shown below provides an assessment of the change in influenza activity comparing the current and S.C. End of Season Flu Report ( pdf). The stomach flu is caused by a number of viruses, mainly norovirus, which accounts for more than 50 percent of all cases, – week . Read flu stories, view the flu state by state map, and get local flu health alerts.

Even though norovirus is often referred to as “stomach flu”, it has nothing to do with influenza, a respiratory illness, and cannot be prevented by vaccination. Flu cases are on the rise across America once again as flu season kicks into Some people even experience vomiting and diarrhea, but this is. Illness due to this virus was initially described in as “winter vomiting Citation Robilotti E, Deresinski S, Pinsky BA. Norovirus. Clin Microbiol Rev . Stomach flu and influenza are two terms that are often used interchangeably to mean the common flu. And since influenza results in a. Gastroenteritis, also referred to as ‘stomach flu’, is inflammation of the stomach and intestinal lining, which causes diarrhea and vomiting.

The stomach flu epidemic sweeping through France has struck Brittany in The above map shows current diarrhoea incident rates around the country in a Only one in four people was protected from the strain. Click here to get a map of retail pharmacies offering vaccine near you. Resources on norovirus or “stomach flu” – another cause of viral illness outbreaks ); CDC Health Update – Use of Antiviral Medications updated January 9, 19, (HealthDay News) — When people infected with norovirus Their experiments showed that vomiting releases virus particles into the. Sometimes people mistake symptoms of stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, for the viral infection we commonly call “flu.” But the “stomach flu” is not the flu. It is a.

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) — When people infected with norovirus vomit, they release virus particles into the air that can infect other people, researchers report.

Norovirus is often called the “cruise ship” virus due to numerous outbreaks at sea. Norovirus infections cause symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Researchers created a device that simulated vomiting and used fake vomit contaminated with virus particles similar to norovirus. Their experiments showed that vomiting releases virus particles into the air.

The study was published Aug. 19 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“When one person vomits, the aerosolized virus particles can get into another person’s mouth and, if swallowed, can lead to infection,” study co-author Lee-Ann Jaykus, of North Carolina State University, said in a university news release.

Jaykus, a professor of food, bioprocessing and nutrition sciences, noted that airborne particles could also contaminate nearby surfaces such as tables and door handles, leaving anyone who touches those surfaces at risk of infection. Moreover, norovirus can linger for weeks, said Jaykus, director of the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative initiative.

Study corresponding author Francis de los Reyes III, a professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at the university, said not a lot of the virus is aerosolized in terms of percentage. “But in absolute terms, it is a lot compared to the amount of virus needed to cause infection,” he said in the news release.

The researchers plan to examine how long the virus particles remain airborne and how far they can travel in the air.

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