Flu spread on the rise

Influenza activity is on the rise both nationwide and in all regions of Michigan.

Public health officials are noticing an increase in patients of all ages being admitted to hospitals for serious influenza disease, the Michigan Department of Community Health reported.

To date, a larger proportion of these hospitalizations are occurring in young and middle-age adults as compared with most influenza seasons.

More and more people across the country are getting sick.

The American Red Cross urges people to get vaccinated now and offers tips everyone can follow to help prevent the spread of the flu.

According to the latest Centers for Disease Control FluView report, overall flu activity continues to be high in the United States with activity continuing to spread to other states.

Thirty-five states are now experiencing widespread activity and 20 states are reporting high levels of influenza-like illness (ILI). H1N1 viruses continue to predominate across the country. Anyone aged 6 months and older who has not gotten a flu vaccine yet this season should get one now.

States are seeing widespread flu activity include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Most other regions are also reporting a number of residents sick with influenza.

Steps to Prevent Flu

The most important step someone can take is to get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. Other steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus:

– Stay home if sick.

– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

– Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If that’s not possible, cough or sneeze into the elbow, not the hands. People with the flu can spread it to others about six feet away through coughs and sneezes.

– Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-rub.

– Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

– Disinfect surfaces used commonly such as door knobs, switches, phones, computers & remote controls.

– If someone has the flu they should avoid contact with others as much as possible.

Do I Have the Flu?

The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children). If someone thinks they have the flu, their health-care provider should be consulted. Someone should seek medical care immediately if they develop any of the following symptoms:

– Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.

– Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).

– Confusion or sudden dizziness.

– Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.

– Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.

– Children: Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting. Fever with a rash. No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.

More information about influenza and how to help stop the spread of the flu virus is available on www.redcross.org.