The Grapevine

Flu Activity Increasing Across US, CDC Reports

Flu season is now in full swing in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As revealed in their recent FluView report, "elevated activity" has been observed across the nation.

Colorado and Georgia were highlighted as the two states with high flu activity. Moderate activity, on the other hand, was seen in New York City as well as nine other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Virginia.

While activity has been relatively low or minimal in the remaining states, health centers in these regions still report a noticeable rise in influenza-associated hospitalizations over recent weeks.

"We've seen an uptick with that in the past few weeks. This is typically the time of year that we would see flu tests and hospitalizations go up," said Dr. Mike Sevilla from Family Practice Center of Salem, Ohio.

Furthermore, the numbers being reported are expected to increase, Dr. Sevilla added. "We've been telling our patients for a long time to look out, because the flu numbers are going to be going up, so we're officially in flu season."

According to the CDC, each year will see an estimated 5 to 20 percent of the population in the United States get affected by the flu. It is important to get the flu shot on time, especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children, and older adults. 

Ideally, you should have received the vaccine by the end of October. But it is never too late to get vaccinated even in the middle of the flu season as this can still offer some benefit.

During this period, when celebrations bring large groups of people together, it is crucial to stick to good hygiene habits. When washing your hands, make sure to lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Always use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze.

Flu symptoms may involve fatigue, coughing, a runny nose, fever, muscle pain, sore throat, headaches, and chest pain. While most people may recover within a week or two, some can develop serious and even life-threatening complications.

People with chronic health conditions and people who are under 5 years of age or over 65 years of age are considered high-risk. The latest reports indicate that seven children have died this season while several others have been hospitalized.

"Annual influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza, but it is not 100 percent effective," said Timothy M. Uyeki, M.D., from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC. "Those at high risk need to be encouraged to seek medical care right away if they develop influenza symptoms during influenza season."