Friday, January 09, 2015

Flu season intensifies across the US

The following originally appeared on APHA’s Public Health Newswire blog.

Flu cases are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest edition of FluView, its weekly influenza surveillance report, U.S. flu activity is increasing in strength and expanding its reach to more areas of the country. As of Dec. 27, 43 states reported “high or widespread influenza activity,” resulting most commonly from drifted influenza A viruses, or H3N2.

Data from CDC’s FluView on the 2014-2015 flu season also shows that 3,441 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported since Oct. 1; for the week of Dec. 27, 5.9 percent of all clinic visits were for patients seeking treatment for influenza-like illness, an elevated level for the sixth week in a row; and 21 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported.

These trends are consistent with what CDC officials have seen over the past several flu seasons. With January or February typically being the worst months for flu, activity could continue to rise.

There are many ways you can protect yourself and others from the flu, including:
  • Getting your annual seasonal flu vaccine, which is the best way to reduce your chance of getting the flu. It’s not too late to get vaccinated.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze.
  • If you do experience flu-like symptoms, staying home and limit contact with others.
Do you live in a state with high or widespread flu activity? Visit Flu Near You, administered by Healthmap of Boston Children’s Hospital in partnership with APHA and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, or download the Flu Near You app to track the outbreak and protect yourself and your community. Flu Near You is a free website and app that uses weekly surveys to track flu symptoms around the country.  Register to see flu activity in your area, find nearby locations offering flu vaccines and connect with local public health organizations.

You can also find out more about flu prevention at APHA’s Get Ready campaign, including fact sheets and other helpful resources.

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