(CNN)After a slow start in October, flu season in the United States is gaining speed, particularly in the South.
Flu activity, which has been increasing since the start of November, is now higher than usual for this time of year, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Flu is a contagious, viral illness that causes mild to severe symptoms that, in rare cases, can lead to death. Five children have died, and an additional 566 flu-related hospitalizations have occurred as of November 25.
“Flu is increasing. We’re seeing a pretty steep increase in influenza activity across the US but especially in the South,” said Brendan Flannery, a co-author of the new report and an epidemiologist in the CDC’s flu division.