Thirty thousand people die from influenza every year ... and if a flu strain turns into a nationwide pandemic, those numbers could increase dramatically.
Public health experts believe an influenza pandemic is inevitable.
So the washington state department of health is starting an ad campaign this week to prepare people for a global outbreak of a new flu virus.
Gordon Kelly, the Director of Environmental Health at the Yakima County Health District, says flu viruses mutate every year, and that's why there is a new flu strain to vaccinate against each fall.
And for that reason, he says that's why it is important to get your flu shot every year.
So, some tips to help you prevent passing the flu along to others, or contract it yourself:
Remember to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
Stay home from school and work when you're sick.
And thoroughly clean common surfaces.