By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The flu is widespread locally and there have been numerous deaths nationwide. Not all of the victims have been elderly or medically compromised people.

Flu season returns every year, so we might take it as seriously as we should, according to Dr. Thomas Fekete, Chair of Internal Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine. He says even able-bodied people can get seriously ill from the flu, in part, because of the inflammation triggered by the virus.

“Every now and again, it can be really, really bad and that can cause problems all over,” Dr. Fekete said. “It can cause cardiac issues, it can cause brain issues and so there are a lot of things the flu virus can do that are attacking the body through the immune response to the virus.”

He says it can turn serious when a patient gets a secondary infection in addition to the flu.

“That’s always been thought of as one of the major issues,” he said, “because the influenza virus beats up the system and then a bacterial infection can take over and cause serious harm, and by the time we get the person into care, it may be too late.”

Dr. Fekete urges people to get a flu shot and see a doctor if you get sick.