Updated February 14, 2020
The number of people who have had flu illnesses has increased to 26 million, up from 15 million just a few weeks ago. 250,000 people have been hospitalized and 14,000 people have died from influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The American Red Cross urges everyone to get their influenza vaccine now.
Influenza is widespread in Puerto Rico and 48 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications. It takes about two weeks after receiving your vaccine for the antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body so it’s important to get your vaccine now.
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).
CARING FOR SOMEONE WHO IS SICK
If someone is ill, they should:
- Stay in a room separate from common areas of the home and avoid contact with others as much as possible.
- Stay at home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without using medicine to reduce the fever.
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Consider wearing a facemask, if available and tolerable, when sharing common spaces with household members.
- Check with their healthcare provider about whether they should take antiviral medication, or if fever persists, whether antibiotics are needed.
If caring for someone who has the flu, people should:
- Disinfect door knobs, switches, handles, toys and other surfaces that everyone touches.
- Use detergent and very hot water to do dishes and wash clothes. It’s okay to wash everyone’s dishes and clothes together. They should wash their hands after handling dirty laundry.
- Designate only one adult as the caregiver. People at increased risk of severe illness from the flu should not be caregivers.
- Deal with crisis situations calmly and confidently to give the best support to the person being cared for.
- Remember their own needs as well.
- Practice healthy habits. Eat a balanced diet. Drink plenty of water. Get regular exercise.
- Get enough sleep and rest.
YOU CAN HELP STOP THE FLU FROM SPREADING
- 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.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
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. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.