Further proof that this is the winter that will never end: The influenza virus is still inciting a phlegmy plague across the country, with young adults the biggest target of the flu virus this year. Traditionally, people over the age 65 have seen the most complications associated with the flu. But this year, 60 percent of flu deaths and 61 percent of hospitalizations related to influenza were people in the 18-64 age range. In the previous three seasons, only 35 percent of hospitalizations were linked to the flu in young and middle-aged adults.
According to the CDC flu map (always a treat for hypochondriacs,) areas with widespread flu activity include some Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including California, Arkansas, and Indiana.
The CDC's response? Guys, you've brought this upon yourselves.
"Influenza can make anyone very sick, very fast and it can kill," says the CDC's director, Dr. Tom Frieden. "Vaccination every season is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself."
Only about a third of people in the 18-64 age bracket have gotten the flu vaccine this season, the CDC estimates, even though the shot effectively wards off the flu for about 60 percent for all people. In particular, experts caution pregnant women to protect themselves against the flu, because it can lead to pneumonia.
"Younger people may feel that influenza is not a threat to them, but this season underscores that flu can be a serious disease for anyone," Frieden says.
The biggest culprit this season is the H1N1 virus, which caused a pandemic back in 2009. When H1N1 was determined to be behind influenza's reach across the country, California made it mandatory to report deaths from the flu. So far, 243 deaths have been reported from that state alone.
Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and avoid contact with others if you fall ill. And if you are sick right now, you could always lie in bed and watch You've Got Mail for the thousandth time.
Doctors estimate that flu season will continue for the next few weeks. Of course, springtime means the onset of allergies... so there's always something to look forward to, right?