Health officials in Amsterdam Friday said a flu epidemic sweeping the Netherlands will infect up to 20 percent of the country before winter ends.
The eastern provinces have already reported high numbers of infections, registering up to 26 cases per 10,000 people, according to the National Center for Influenza.
If the center's forecast holds, up to 3 million of the Netherlands' 15 million inhabitants stand to get sick this winter.
Center spokesman Albert Osterhaus said people were being urged to get anti-flu vaccinations or medications.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States says that most people who get the flu recover completely in one to two weeks. However, some people can develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia.
So far this year, 19 states have reported a high incidence of flu cases to the CDC.
In an average year, influenza is associated with about 20,000 deaths in the United States and many more hospitalizations, according to CDC statistics.