Flu cases on the rise in state, doctor says; 7 deaths reported so far

SEATTLE -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the flu season has reached epidemic levels.

Fifteen children have died from influenza across the country and seven people have died so far in Washington state.

"We’re seeing accelerated cases of the flu in last two to three weeks," said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, a flu expert at the Everett Clinic, who also tracks Influenza cases across the state

"It looks like it’s shaping up to be a more vigorous season," said Tu. "Our fear is that more of the elderly and the young infants will be affected more severely compared to previous seasons."

The prevalent strain, H3N2, is not part of this year's vaccination. That cuts down the effectiveness of flu shots, and H3N2 is a strain that is particularly tough on the elderly and very young.

Tu expects the numbers to pick up when kids go back to school after winter break.

Symptoms for the flu include high fever, body aches, a sore throat and persistent cough.