According to the Centers for Disease Control, all states in the U.S. have widespread flu activity, with the exception of Tennessee and Hawaii.  Some states are seeing an increase in flu activity while others are seeing the numbers of cases going down.  The nations’ total this flu season for pediatric deaths is 29.  Although the government doesn’t keep a running tally of adult deaths from the flu, estimates are that it takes about 24,000 lives every year. 

Federal officials are taking unusual steps to make more flu medicines available and urging wider use of them as soon as symptoms appear.  One reason is that the number of older people hospitalized with the flu as risen sharply.  Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDCP, reports that this season is shaping up to be a worse-than-average season, especially for the elderly.  Two drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, can cut the severity and risk of death from the flu, but must be started within 48 hours of first symptoms to do much good. 

Some of the signs of the flu are:

  • Feeling as though you have been hit by a truck;
  • Coughing;
  • Aching;
  • Head is pounding;
  • Fever
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. 

Know that the flu is a virus, which means that antibiotics won’t cure viruses.  Usually the flu passes without complications.  However, in the case of high fever, especially in children, a doctor should be involved in their care.  High-risk groups, pregnant women, children, or the elderly may want to see their doctor, because they are at a higher risk to contact the flu.  Some antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza can be taken as early as possible to enable the illness to not be as severe.  Of course, the flu shots seem to be helping all three strains that are circulating, also helping it to be a lighter case than without the shot. 

Warning signs to get to the emergency room ASAP if these symptoms are experienced by children: 

  • Not drinking fluids
  • Extreme irritability
  • Fever with a rash
  • Having trouble breathing or breathing rapidly
  • Blue tinge to the skin
  • Child won’t wake up or interact
  • Flu symptoms have improved, but cough and fever return and worsen 

Symptoms to watch for in adults may be similar; however, they may also experience: 

  • Vomiting that is severe and persistent
  • Confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen 

Here are ways to help prevent the spread of this “bug”: 

  1. Get the flu shot
  2. Stay home if you are sick
  3. Keep your kids home from school until they’ve gone 24 hours without fever
  4. Wash hands very often
  5. Cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  6. Use a face mask to protect others when you cough or sneeze.
  7. Stay out of public places
  8. Understand that this is a serious illness that could result in complications, such as pneumonia 

The CDC states that the flu again has surpassed an “epidemic” status, based on monitoring of deaths from flu.  It happens every year, and it takes everyone’s cooperation in preventing the spread of flu by following the instructions above.  Persons will appreciate your missing church, school, or work, if you are ill.  You can always catch up on what you miss, and you’ll know you did your part in keeping others safe from flu.