Flu Now Considered Widespread in Most of Country

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IOWA  --  As the flu is considered widespread in Iowa and many other states across the country, doctors say it is not too late to get a flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control say flu activity is higher this year than last, and considerably more widespread, according to NBC's Steve Patterson.

Reka Regis, a mother living near Seattle, is running a living room infirmary as her family of six is all sick with the flu.

"We haven't been hit quite like this since, I can't remember when," she said.

In Washington state alone, 148 people have died from the flu this season, putting the state on track for its worst flu season in seven years.

Officials say there is cause for nationwide concern.

The CDC says 40 states are reporting widespread flu activity, with more than 30,000 reported cases of influenza in the United States. So far this season 15 children have died, seven in just one week.

"I think people forget that influenza kills tens of thousands of Americans each year," said the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Pritish Tosh.

This is why doctors across the country are pushing the importance of immunization.

"The most important thing people can do to prevent them from getting influenza is to get vaccinated," said Tosh.

Rebecca Hendricks works with a group called Families Fighting Flu, after the illness claimed her 5-year-old daughter Scarlett two years ago.

"She was like a ray of sunshine. When you were in her presence, you couldn't help but to smile," said Hendricks. "I didn't know, s I treated it like a common cold. And when I took her to the hospital, she went straight to ICU and died four hours later."

The number of flu-related deaths in Iowa continues to rise, with the number currently standing at 25. Officials say 11 of those were reported in the last week of January alone.

The flu season typically ends in March.