The death toll from the flu outbreak that is gripping the United States is growing. 

More than three dozen pediatric deaths have been reported already this year. 

The Centers for Disease Control says in addition to children and the elderly, this epidemic is hitting baby boomers much harder than usual. 

AFC Urgent Care Dr. Alan von Gremp said this year's winter weather isn't helping keep the virus at bay. 

"The weather is cold, the cold air is dry and dry air is the optimum environment for transmitting flu virus, so now is the time we see the flu virus every year," he added. 

Each patient von Gremp treats is a little different, but he said he mainly looks for the rapid onset of fever, chills, headache and body ache when diagnosing the flu. 

"There can be some cough, and sore throat and nasal congestion and other things, but nothing makes you ache like the flu," he said. 

Sometimes he prescribes Tamiflu to help with symptoms, but he said it needs to be used quickly in order for it to work. 

"That's the only time it can help is if you start using it during those early flu symptoms, so after about 48 hours, it doesn't have quite the value as it does on the front-end," he said. 

As for prevention, the best piece of advice is to wash your hands, stay away from others who are sick and wipe down commonly used surfaces. 

"The flu virus doesn't last long on soft surfaces, like clothes and tissues. But on harder surfaces it can live for 24 hours," von Gremp said.