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H1N1 now widespread throughout half of US and making its way into Canada

Your flu shot may be your best defense against the virus, which the CDC reports is spreading quickly.
Your flu shot may be your best defense against the virus, which the CDC reports is spreading quickly.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Many people are beginning the new year with a horrible case of the flu. And it's only going to get worse, according to a national health agency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that H1N1 flu activity in the United States continues to increase, with 25 states now reporting widespread levels of activity. That's up from just 10 states, including Alabama, the previous week.

The data, though released Friday, was from information collected the final week of 2014. The CDC, however, expects the number of cases to continue to increase across the country in the weeks ahead. Anyone aged 6 months and older who has not gotten a flu vaccine yet this season is encouraged to get one. Experts say it is your best defense against this year's aggressive virus.

The H1N1 flu has also entered neighboring Canada with a vengeance.

According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the chief medical officer for a B.C. Lower Mainland health authority stated that more than a dozen patients are in intensive care, some on ventilators, because of the H1N1 flu virus.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder, with Fraser Health, told CBC Friday that 15 patients, many of them otherwise healthy, young people, were recently admitted to hospitals in the region.

News sources in Canada also report that six deaths have been confirmed in Ontario; five in Aberta; and two in Toronto.

Not sure if you have the flu? Click here for a complete list of symptoms.

You can check out the CDC's weekly FluView report, which includes information on pediatric deaths and general hospitalizations of the flu in the US.