Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

It's Flu Season, CDC Says

Latest Flu Season Start in 24 Years
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 24, 2012 -- Flu season is officially under way, the CDC says.

It's the latest start in 24 years, Joseph Bresee, MD, chief of epidemiology and prevention at the CDC's flu branch, said at a news teleconference.

The CDC declares a flu season when for three weeks in a row at least 10% of people seeing a doctor for flu-like symptoms actually test positive for flu. The CDC has done this for 29 years. Only once before, in the 1987-88 flu season, has it come so late in the year.

"Flu viruses have been reported from all 50 states," Bresee said. "Fortunately, because flu activity remains relatively low, levels of severe flu are low."

Currently, flu activity is highest in the Midwest, with high-level activity in Missouri.

Three children have died of flu during this 2011-2012 season. The annual number of child flu deaths ranges from 46 to 202 during flu seasons. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic killed 340 children.

Even though it's been a mild flu year so far, look out: Over the last 35 years, U.S. flu has surged four times in March and twice in April.

Why such a late and (so-far) mild flu season? Flu is hard to predict, but Bresee offered several possible reasons:

  • The flu bugs circulating this year are very much the same as those from last year. There may be a higher-than-usual level of flu immunity in the U.S. this year.
  • More people than ever before are getting their flu shots -- and this year's flu vaccine is a good match for this year's flu. About 132 million doses of flu vaccine were distributed this year.
  • The weather has been warmer in much of the U.S. Flu bugs spread better in cold, dry air. And when it's really cold out, people huddle together indoors, spreading germs.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat