Nightly News   |  January 19, 2014

Flu Infecting and Killing Young Patients

The CDC is saying that this year’s flu epidemic is infecting and killing younger patients more than an average year.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in this country, centers for disease control report anyone 6 months and older who has not yet gotten a flu shot should get one now, with the flu reported to be widespread in 40 states. we'll get the latest from nbc's kristen dahlgren.

>> reporter: for jane turner , now in a connecticut hospital, the flu hit hard.

>> i was very short of breath, productive cough and very tired.

>> reporter: leaving her on oxyg oxygen, and her family on edge.

>> it was pretty scary. i was very concerned about her.

>> reporter: near dallas, there are so many cases of the flu, paramedics are being forced to wait to bring patients into the e.r.

>> the flu this year is the worst it's been -- i've been a paramedic for 15 years. it's the worst i've seen it in 15 years.

>> reporter: cdc is calling it an epidemic, widespread flu activity spread iing to 40 states. this year's h1n1 strain is affecting and killing younger patients. father of six was just 41 when he died on new year's eve.

>> i've never seen a man in my life like him. he was very special.

>> reporter: in california, at least 45 people have died this year and health officials are investigating another 50. the cdc has now partnered with google to analyze flu trends before medical data comes in. searches for flu-related words are spiking, especially in these cities, dallas-ft. worth and sacramento, where flu activity is highest. according to cdc statistics, less than half of americans usually get the vaccine. many still believe it will increase their likelihood of getting sick.

>> i think getting the flu vaccination is exactly what you need to do, especially at this time, if you haven't gotten it already.

>> a mistake friends of chris don't want anyone else to make.

>> get the flu shot . be prepared and don't end up like chris. if we could prevent this, we need to prevent this.

>> reporter: a heartfelt plea from those who know just what this flu season is capable of. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.