Flu season officially in full swing, doctors warn

Zachary BarrettJan 11, 2017

A recent uptick in influenza cases across Minnesota has prompted local and state health officials to encourage residents to get vaccinated if they haven't already.

Ten states in the U.S. report a high activity in flu and all around the country, more and more people are reportedly getting admitted to hospitals amid complaints of flu and its severe effects.

While the spread of influenza can be unpredictable, generally season flu season peaks sometime between December and February, though it has been reported as late as May, according to the CDC.

"It's just ramping up now", Martin said. If you haven't gotten your flu shot last fall, you may want to rethink that decision.

Other respiratory illnesses circulating locally are respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which infects the lungs, and at least five viruses that look like flu, Maron said. Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The strain of this flu season differs from the last: it is Influenza A H3N2 as opposed to the reportedly milder H1N1.

The CDC estimates that the vaccine prevents 5 million flu illnesses and 71,000 hospital visits.

"The flu vaccine is safe, simple, and the single most important way to avoid the flu", said Dr. Francisco Garcia, chief medical officer and director at the Pima County Health Department. "So, if there are any folks out there who have not yet had the vaccine, now would be the time to get vaccinated because this virus is going to be out there circulating for several months and there's still time to be protected". Children under 6 months can not get a flu shot, in addition to those who have previously had a severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine.

"The best preventive measures to protect against seasonal influenza are a flu vaccination and good hand hygiene, " said Lisa Caffery, infection control coordinator, Genesis Health System.

CDC epidemiologists say the worst flu years are caused by H3 strains.

Which is why Lesinger says you should always get your flu shot.

"I always tell people if they are in a business's waiting room that has magazines, don't pick them up until April or May because someone who is ill may have touched them", she said. "There was nothing special about Shannon".

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