Flu Update: Flu Epidemic Sweeps U.S.
January 23, 2014
UPDATED By WeatherBug's Tim Barnes
Flu activity remains elevated across the U.S., with signs indicating it will likely continue to climb. What can you do to keep you and your loved ones healthy heading into the peak of the flu season?
Here are some flu facts:
Starting this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the nasal spray version of the vaccine for healthy children ages 2 through 8 years old, because recent studies indicate 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:
Local influenza activity was reported by the District of Columbia and one state (Alaska).
Regional influenza activity was reported by Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and five states (Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Tennessee).
Widespread influenza activity was reported by 44 states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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