2,257 people have been hospitalized since the start of flu season
The U.S. has been hit with a particularly aggressive early flu season this year with widespread reports of the illness across the country, hospitalizing 2,257 people and leaving 18 children dead before the end of 2012.
And health officials say the numbers haven't even peaked yet.
'I think we're still accelerating,' Tom Skinner, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman, told reporters.
The latest figures from the CDC show 29 states and New York City reporting high levels of flu activity, up from 16 states and New York City just one week prior.
Overall, 41 states reported cases.
'It's about five weeks ahead of the average flu season,' said Lyn Finelli, lead of the surveillance and response team that monitors influenza for the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 'We haven't seen such an early season since 2003 to 2004.'
During that flu season, Joe Lastinger's daughter Emily, 3, died only five days after coming down with the flu in late January.
'That was the first really bad season for children in a while,' said Lastinger, 40. 'For whatever reason that's not well understood, it affected her and it killed her.'
In that season, illnesses peaked in early to mid-December, with flu-related pneumonia and deaths peaking in early January.
That season was considered a 'moderately severe' season for flu, and ended in mid-February.
It's still too early to tell how bad this year's flu season will get.
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