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21 States Report Widespread Flu; Red Cross Issues Safety Steps

Seasonal Flu

More and more people are becoming sick with influenza and American Red Cross has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of influenza.

In its most recent report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports widespread influenza activity in Guam, Puerto Rico and 21 states including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. All other states report some level of people sick with the flu. That number is expected to go up over the next several weeks.

The Red Cross reminds everyone it is not too late to get their flu vaccine now to be protected. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine protection to set in, so now is the perfect time to get vaccinated. Everyone six months of age and older should get a yearly flu vaccine to protect against getting sick

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will protect you throughout the 2015-2016 flu season.

WHAT CAN YOU DO In addition to getting vaccinated, the Red Cross has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu. They include:

  • Stay home if you’re sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • DO I HAVE THE FLU? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children).
  • Fever with a rash (children).
  • No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children).
  • More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App.

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    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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