Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State has declared a public health emergency as the influenza epidemic continues to grip the country. The state has seen record cases of the flu with almost 20,000 cases reported this season. A figure more than four times the number of cases last winter flu season.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that flu cases throughout the US have reached “epidemic proportions” with  7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu. The prominent strain of the virus is H3N2, which can be severe.

Influenza H3N2 is a sub type of the flu virus that can infect birds and mammals. The H3N2 strain is increasingly abundant in seasonal influenza, which kills an estimated 36,000 people in the US each year.

In a statement from Governor Cuomo, he said “We are experiencing the worst flu season since at least 2009, and influenza activity in New York State is widespread, with cases reported in all 57 counties and all five boroughs of New York City.”

US Authorities are continuing to urge the public to get vaccinated especially those in high risk groups such as children, senior citizens or those with underlying health conditions.

The only US states that have managed to escape the widespread epidemic were California, Mississippi and Hawaii.