CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This flu season is shaping up to be the worst in years, and it's not over yet.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is classifying the flu outbreak in West Virginia as "widespread," and this state is no anomaly.
This flu season has been rough throughout the country. Deaths have been reported in several states, including Pennsylvania and Indiana.
In West Virginia, a flu outbreak forced officials to close Pocahontas County schools for two days in December. At Thomas Memorial Hospital alone there have been 56 confirmed cases since Nov. 21. St. Francis Hospital has seen another 40.
Even as early as Dec. 18 - when the most recent available data were compiled - West Virginia had 10,676 cases of the flu. That's more than in all of December 2011 (6,658 cases) or December 2010 (6,245 cases).
"It's here and it's hitting hard," said Alan Humphrey, a physician assistant at MedExpress in Charleston.
It seems more prominent than it has since 2009, he said, though the symptoms are roughly the same in every case, year after year.
"That sense of getting run over by a tractor trailer? That's still there," he said.
MedExpress has been seeing an influx of patients with flu-like symptoms for months - as early as September.
That's an early start for flu season. And according to the CDC, flu activity across the country hasn't peaked yet, leading officials to believe this season will probably more closely resemble the severe flu season of 2009 than any of the mild seasons in the years since.