Influenza remains widespread across 17 states and this year it is dramatically affecting younger people. The number of deaths attributed to the flu is still above the epidemic level and the American Red Cross urges people who have not yet gotten their flu vaccine to get vaccinated now.
According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the H1N1 virus that caused a pandemic in 2009 is one of the predominant strains making people sick this year. Experts are seeing a rise in flu deaths in young and middle-aged adults and children this year and more than 60 percent of hospitalizations associated with influenza have occurred in people age 18 to 64 years old. Normally children and adults age 65 and older have the highest hospitalization rates.
TEN STEPS TO PREVENT FLU
1. Get your flu vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses.
2. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
3. Stay home if you are sick.
4. Stay in a room separate from common areas of the home and avoid contact with others as much as possible.
5. Stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without using medicine to reduce the fever.
6. 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.
7. Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-rub.
8. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
9. Disinfect surfaces everyone touches - door knobs, switches, handles, toys, phones, computers, remote controls, etc.
10. If you think you have the flu, consult your health care provider.
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 (more common in children). Seek medical care immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms: