On top of severe weather across much of the country, Americans are now facing a steadily increasing flu outbreak. The dreaded flu is on the rise. In just one week, states with high flu activity more than tripled in number from 6 to 20 states. This dramatic rise is cause for concern, especially since the height of flu season is yet to come. As posted by Fox News in Philadelphia on Jan. 4, flu season typically peaks late Jan. into early Feb.
The flu strain in 2014 is the same one that spread internationally in 2009. Initially known as swine flu, the H1N1 virus took off like wildfire five years ago and caused a pandemic. Now, it’s back and it means business. The bad news is that this year’s flu can hit healthy children and adults more than any other strain. The good news is that H1N1 is included in this year’s vaccine.
According to the International Business Times, most of the states reporting a sudden surge in flu cases are in the south, including Georgia. Other high states with high flu activity include Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. In typical years, the flu starts in the south and spreads from there.
As posted by Atlanta-based CDC, influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and sometimes death. Unlike a cold, the flu comes on suddenly and can cause the following symptoms:
- Fever or feverish chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle and/or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Most people recover anywhere from a few days to two weeks, but some can develop serious complications from the flu. The best prevention is the flu vaccine and it’s not too late to get one if you haven’t already. Thorough and frequent hand washing is also critical to prevent the flu. If you think you or your child has the flu, it’s important to stay home from work or school. As reported by flu.gov, approximately 5-20% of all Americans come down with the seasonal flu each year and thousands die from it annually.
In 2014, low humidity and fluctuations in temperature are causing the virus to stay in the air longer than usual. This year, the H1N1 virus is especially affecting young and middle aged adults. The first line of defense is the flu shot, followed by constant hand washing.
Flu resources for parents:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
If you think your child has the flu, click here for an interactive online flu assessment.
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