Numerous media outlets and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga. have noted that an unusually severe form of the Influenza Virus has taken its toll across the United States, where the number of states reporting an unusual increase of flu activity and its severity has risen from 23 states to 36 states.

As with every winter season where the influenza virus is most predominately active, the activity has not only begun earlier than normal in the United States, this H3N2 strain is hitting Americans particularly hard at the start of the 2018 flu season, Healthline reported.

In the state of Texas, five people have died, Dallas County health officials have reported, and, in the southwestern part of Texas, health officials stated that they have seen a rapid rise in the number of flu cases being reported since mid-December. In Arizona, at the start of December 2017, the number of cases had risen to over 1100 and has affected all counties in that state. As the flu virus cases continue to rise, it has health experts concerned. The department chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Schaffner, told Healthline that this season’s flu started earlier than normal and that he expects to see a moderate to severe flu virus outbreak across the U.S.

The virus, H3N2

The H3N2 flu virus, according to the CDC, is normally found in pigs, and is called a “variant virus” when found in humans and was first detected in humans in 2011, whereas the flu virus was found in U.S. pigs in 2010. Making the situation worse, this year’s H3N2 is much more severe than seen in the past.

Schaffner stated, “They tend to result in more complications of flu: pneumonia, having to be hospitalized, and actually dying — that’s number one.”

England (UK) has announced their flu vaccine is not effective

While the United States and the northern hemisphere is experiencing a harsh flu season, the UK, namely, England, health officials have come out publicly to state that the vaccine was found to not be effective against the flu outbreak, the Daily Mail reported.

The situation has caused British surgeons to cancel 55,000 surgeries due to the massive flu virus outbreak that has caused a bed shortage at UK hospitals while ambulances were experiencing record delays unseen in the past in transferring patients to different hospitals as the number of patients affected by the influenza virus continues to rise.

As with the United States, health experts in the UK are growing concerned as this season appears to be the worst influenza virus outbreak in 50 years with the same H3N2 virus causing havoc among British citizens and the medical establishment, while the same virus strain is also causing havoc in Australia as well. In avoiding the flu, medical experts state that while the present vaccine is weak against the H3N2 strain, there are other forms of the flu virus still out there. They suggest washing your hands and being mindful of those around you, along with seeking medical attention as soon as possible if you feel you are coming down with the flu.