Flu activity ramps up as holiday season continues

Flu activity ramps up as holiday season continues

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Got the aches and sniffles?  The CDC is warning this flu season is off to a tough start, and likely to get more serious. The flu is now widespread in seven U.S. states. In Kentucky and Indiana flu activity is regional.

The flu outbreak was so bad at an Illinois School district, that the school ended up closing on Thursday and Friday. Cleaning crews at Litchfield schools scrubbed down the school to sanitize after nearly one-quarter of students got the flu. Students are scheduled to be back in class Monday.

Norton  Healthcare said workplaces, schools and public areas are breeding grounds for colds, flu and respiratory illnesses.

>> PREVIOUS STORIES: Flu season is off to a fast start

Across the country, things are going to get worse as the holidays approach with families traveling and spending time together in close quarters. Experts say there have been nearly 10,000 confirmed influenza cases so far this season. This time last year, zero states had widespread flu activity, with about 4,200 confirmed cases.

"You can start spreading the flu virus to other people beginning one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick," Michele Fass, M.D., family medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Shepherdsville, said. "And children can be considered contagious for more than seven days after becoming sick."

Doctors are also worried that the flu shot may be only ten percent effective against this year's main strain of the flu.  But, that does not mean you shouldn't bother getting the shot.

"We very well could get a lot of protection from just getting vaccinated," Dr. Shivani Reddy said. "Everybody should be getting it. It's safe for anybody who's over 6 months of age."

According to Dr. Fass, treating the flu is all about timing. An antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu, is most effective if started within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. If you have flu symptoms, see a doctor as quickly as possible.

Can't decide whether to stay home or go out? Norton Healthcare doctors have the following tips for you:

  • Don’t go out until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.
  • style="box-sizing:border-box;">If coughing, sneezing or a runny nose are severe enough to interfere with your work, then you need to stay home.
  • style="box-sizing:border-box;">Getting plenty of rest will help you get better faster, so help your body heal by staying home as long as you can.
  • style="box-sizing:border-box;">If you’re coughing and sneezing, you still can spread germs to others. 

Those over 65, should get a special version to boost their immune system, which is important because they're at higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke after the flu.

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