Federal health officials warned Friday that this year’s flu outbreak is more severe than any other since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and that its intensity is still increasing. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a phone call with reporters that the number of people experiencing flu-like symptoms is increasing. Hospitalizations for influenza are also rising. What’s more, flu activity has stayed at the same level nationwide for about three weeks, said Dr. Dan Jernigan, the director of the CDC’s Influenza Division.

That sets it apart from many flu seasons, in which activity wanes in certain parts of the U.S. “We often see different parts of the country ‘light up’ at different times, but for the past 3 weeks, the entire country has been experiencing lots of flu, all at the same time,” he said. The deaths of seven children from the flu were reported to the CDC this week, bringing the total number of child deaths this flu season to 37, CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald said. READ MORE