Flu Widespread Across Most of U.S.; Red Cross Issues Safety Steps
More and more people are sick with the flu across the country and the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to help prevent the spread of the flu.
Influenza is now widespread in 46 states, up from 36 states just a few days ago. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports the situation is similar to what was seen at the peak of the 2014-2015 season, the most severe flu season in recent years. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.
Flu vaccine is the best available way to protect against influenza. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an injectable flu vaccine as soon as possible. More information, including flu safety checklists in several languages, is available at the flu safety link above. To help stop the spread of influenza:
THE FLU AND GIVING BLOOD The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now to help address a winter blood donation shortage. Donors who are healthy and feeling well are urged to schedule donation appointments and invite others to do the same as soon as possible.
Individuals who are not feeling well on the day of donation will be deferred from giving blood. Those who have the flu should wait until they no longer have flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before attempting to donate. Blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.
You can give blood after receiving the influenza vaccine if you are symptom-free and meet all other eligibility requirements. Neither the flu shot nor the intranasal vaccine is cause for a blood donation deferral, because there is no risk of transmitting influenza after receiving the vaccines.
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:
CARING FOR SOMEONE WITH THE FLU If someone in your household does come down with the flu, the Red Cross wants you to know the best way to care for them:
DOWNLOAD FIRST AID APP The Red Cross First Aid app includes safety tips on influenza. Download the free app from the app store for your mobile device by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.
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.