MW-DC476_flu_de_20141231101406_ZHAll those fevers, headaches and achy muscles mean one thing: The flu is getting to more people and making them sicker than usual this winter. Indeed, “this could be the most severe flu season since prior to 2009,” said Michael Smith, chief medical editor for WebMD, referencing the year the company began tracking it. The flu season not only started earlier than normal this season but also is more aggressive than usual. The flu was already widespread in 36 states in the days before Christmas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only in California and Hawaii is flu activity “sporadic.” And the sickest area, based on online searches for flu symptoms on WebMD, is an area comprising southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee that includes Bristol, Va., Kingsport, Tenn., and Johnson City, Tenn. Behind it are Shreveport, La., and the Des Moines–Ames area in Iowa. It’s not known why some areas of the country are more affected by the flu. “Every year, the flu reaches epidemic proportions,” Smith said. “It’s already there this year.” More