The H3N2 flu virus (Image: AP/CDC)

A flu strain called H3N2 has sent thousands to emergency rooms in California—so many that hospitals are erecting tents to accommodate the all the extra patients, reports the LA Times.

Check out this picture from Fox 5 San Diego reporter Jamie Chambers:

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And this, from LA Times reporter Soumya Karlamangla:

But it’s not just California where this virulent strain has struck—hospitals across the country report an uptick in cases, the CDC reports. It’s difficult to predict whether or not the flu vaccine in a given year will match well with the strains of flu viruses circulating in the general population, according to another CDC publication. Vaccines are typically less effective against the H3N2 strain, since it’s more likely to have mutated since the vaccine was created. Vaccines are about 32 percent effective on H3N2, versus 39 percent on all strains combined.

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So, what should you do if you end up with H3N2? Well, “most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs,” according to that CDC page. Generally, they recommend that you try to limit your contact with other people unless things get really bad. You should especially avoid at-risk people, like young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses—so stay home if you’re sick.

It’s important to note that this year’s strain is a problem-causing one that’s more likely to cause hospitalization or death, reports the LA Times.

You can still get the flu shot. Wash your hands. And try not to spread things if you’re feeling sick.

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[CDC via the LA Times]