If it felt like more people around you were getting sick last month, that’s because they were.
In December 2014, an average of 11.6% adults who Gallup polled in the US on any given day said they were “were sick with a cold yesterday”…
…and an average of 4% said they were sick with the flu.
Both of those are increases from December of the previous year, when 8.9% of Americans said they had a cold and 2.8% said they had the flu.
This season is comparable to the 2012-2013 flu season, during which the same virus—H3N2—circulated, according to the US Centers for Disease and Prevention. One possible reason for the increase from last year is most of the strains of the viruses spreading are different than the ones that this year’s flu vaccine protects against (the CDC suggests getting the shot anyway, partly in case it is somewhat effective in fighting the spreading strains).
During the last week of 2014, 5.9% of Americans went to a doctor for an influenza-like illness, according to the CDC. That’s an increase from 2013. (The CDC tracks reports from hospitals and doctors, while the Gallup asks people to self-report their illness.)
As the Washington Post points out, though the flu has hit the US harder than Ebola—21 child deaths during the flu season so far, compared to 4 reported US cases of Ebola—it isn’t getting due attention.