The season has started earlier, and cases are more severe than last year, health officials say.
The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu advisory report, which covers the week of December 23 to 29, suggests that 41 states have widespread influenza activity, which was an increase of 31 states from the previous week. The CDC will issue an update on the flu situation Friday.
<Click here for the flu activity across the country>
There have so far been 2,257 hospitalizations associated with laboratory-confirmed flu virus, the CDC report said. Among children, there have been 18 deaths reported during this season. Seven flu related deaths have been reported in Arkansas.
The CDC recommends that people who have a higher risk of complications from the flu receive antiviral treatment. These include people with chronic illnesses such as pulmonary, cardiovascular and neurological conditions, as well as anyone 65 years and older and children under age 2.
Meanwhile, the CDC says the seasonal flu will cost businesses nearly $10.5 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.
And that number does not include such costs as sick pay, work delays and lost productivity.