Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that flu cases have risen steadily, with significant flu activity in 24 states and 169 deaths reported.

“Last year marked the longest flu season in a decade, and now we are seeing this year’s flu season off to an alarmingly fast start,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce Committee that met Wednesday for a hearing on the flu with health officials.

Last year, the flu caused more than 48 million illnesses and over 79,000 deaths, according to the CDC, and typically hits babies and the elderly the hardest.