Flu has reached epidemic proportions and killed 20 children in the United States, according to the country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Only figures for children who die of flu are recorded, making it hard to assess the overall number of people killed.
The government agency’s figures show that 24 out of 50 US states are showing high levels of flu activity. The illness has reached these levels before the usual peak period – at the end of January or in February.
The CDC also says this year’s flu vaccine appears to be around 62 percent effective against the currently circulating strains.
Tens of thousands of people die of flu in the US every year, even at times when there is no epidemic.