Shannon Zwanziger had had the flu for a week when she died, her family says. (Courtesy of CNN)
Shannon Zwanziger had had the flu for a week when she died, her family says. (Courtesy of CNN)
Shannon Zwanziger had had the flu for a week when she died, her family says. (Courtesy of CNN)

(CNN) — Shannon Zwanziger seemed perfectly healthy. She was an active 17-year-old who rarely got sick and hadn’t been to a doctor in more than three years.

Then one day, she came home with the flu. She died a week later.

Shannon is part of grim new statistics released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that the flu has reached an epidemic level in the United States this year.

It’s blamed for more deaths than it was at this time last year — including 15 children. That’s as of December 20. Already, more flu-related deaths are suspected, including a 4-year-old boy in Port Isabel, Texas, CNN affiliate KGNS reports.

It’s still early in the flu season, which often begins in early fall and persists through May, so it remains to be seen exactly how pervasive the flu will be.

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