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Moscow, Russia

Flu Update: Below the Baseline

April 17, 2015

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Timothy Barnes

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Good news! Flu activity has finally fallen below the national baseline, which means influenza cases have finally dropped to below-average levels for the first time since mid-November 2014. How can you keep you and your loved ones healthy through the rest of the flu season?

Here are some flu facts:

Starting this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the nasal spray version of the vaccine for healthy children ages 2 through 8 years old, because recent studies indicated that the nasal spray version may work better at protecting young children than the shot. If you find that the spray is not available where you are, the regular flu shot is then recommended. The CDC says not to delay getting your child vaccinated by waiting for the spray.

Speaking of the flu shot, the best time to get one is generally in the fall. If you haven`t gotten one yet, it is still not too late, though it takes a couple of weeks for your body to develop flu antibodies to protect itself. The CDC recommends anyone older than six months get immunized. Remember: the flu shot cannot give you the flu, but some side effects are possible, including a runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, and mild fever.

Due to certain health restrictions, not everyone is eligible to receive the flu shot. For those of you who are not able to get a flu shot, there are other things you can do to minimize your risk for contracting the flu, as well as giving it to others:

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Avoid exposing others when you are sick. Stay home from work or school if you are exhibiting symptoms.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Lastly, getting a flu shot is not a guarantee that you won`t end up getting the flu, but it can help you from catching it as easily and can even help keep symptoms from being as bad. In fact this season, because of the unusual severity of the flu, the CDC has urged doctors to prescribe antiviral drugs, like Tamiflu, to patients with flu-like symptoms. If given early enough, there is evidence that antivirals can lessen the intensity and duration of influenza symptoms.

Below is the latest update on the flu activity for the United States:

Widespread activity was reported by three states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York).

Regional activity was reported by Guam and 14 states (Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington).

Local activity was reported by the District of Columbia and 19 states (Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).

Sporadic activity was reported by Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 14 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia).

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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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