According to the Center for Disease Control, the “bug” is back, and earlier than it has been in almost ten years.  It is predicted to be an especially bad flu season for some Americans.  Suspected flu cases have jumped in five states, and the primary strain circulating is one that tends to make people sicker, especially the elderly.  This years’ bug is H3N2; fortunately, the vaccine that was developed for this year is well matched to the strains of flu seen this year.  Also, one-third of Americans have been vaccinated so far this year. 

The CDC’s flu-tracking system’s reports are a week old the day they are made, since it takes time for reports to reach them.  These are based directly on physician-reported illnesses.  The CDC’s flu tracking system shows that flu-like illnesses are widespread in five states:

Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.  Georgia and Missouri have moderate levels of activity. 

WebMD’s Cold and Flu Map, based on cold and flu symptoms entered into the WebMD Symptom Checker, shows “severe” flu activity in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and South Dakota.  Moderate to severe activity is reported in southeastern, south central, and central states, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. 

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDCP, predicts it is shaping up to be a bad flu season, however, only time will tell.  There are ample supplies of the flu vaccine; manufacturers have shipped 123 million of this year’s expected 135 million doses of the flu vaccine.  Dr. Frieden reports that last year had no shortage of the vaccine and they expect it won’t fall short this year. 

So, if you haven’t received your vaccination, do so now, so your holidays won’t be spoiled.  That way, you don’t risk giving it to your friends, families, or co-workers.  If you do become sick, please stay at home and try to not come in close contact with others.  Washing your hands or using anti-bacterial hand wash will help kill germs.