2020 influenza season at 'widespread epidemic level' doctor says

This flu season is predicted to be one of the worst, and one of the reasons is the highly contagious strain that's really affecting kids. 

Just last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) confirmed the first influenza-associated pediatric deaths of the 2019-2020 flu season in Michigan. 

MDHHS said the deaths occurred in Wayne and Shiawassee Counties - and that both children had influenza B.

"This year we've been seeing a whole lot more flu than we have in previous years. To kind of put it in perspective, this is the first year in a few years we've been in a widespread epidemic level," says Detroit Receiving Medical Director Dr. Rob Klever. 

He says kids in Michigan and all over the country are getting hit hard with influenza B. 

"Which tends to be a little bit more contagious than flu A, has a little bit less severe symptoms but this year it's just spreading rapidly, like wildfire."

Testing for the flu takes a nasal swab and about an hour, and doctors can tell you what strain you have. 

The flu vaccine isn't fighting the B strain very well and while the B strain is supposed to be less severe, it's proving to be more dangerous - even deadly for kids when they get an infection on top of influenza. 

RELATED: Michigan reports first two pediatric flu deaths of season

"You start off with flu but then you get a bacterial pneumonia secondary afterward," Dr. Klever says. "It can shut down your body, and that is unfortunately what happens."

Fever and body aches are important symptoms that could signal you have the flu, and this flu B is very contagious. 

"It's spread mainly through respiratory droplets, so when kids cough or they sneeze - you know cough in their hands and they grab the counter or food or shake hands or give hugs - that's how the flu spreads."