Hospitals Limit Visits Because of the Flu

Woman sick sickness fever thermometer flu influenza

State officials report first child flu death in North Carolina of this season

Influenza (flu) activity levels are increasing across the state of Alabama.

Twenty-one of the 36 states experienced high levels of activity in the week ending December 23, according to the CDC report released Friday.

Q Why is it hard to predict which flu vaccine will be most effective each year?

In the past, H3N2 flu seasons have been more severe with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children.

On a positive note, there were no new influenza outbreaks reported this week at long-term care facilities.

Antiviral drugs (which require a doctor's orders) won't totally cure the flu, but they can make symptoms milder and shorter, and they are especially effective if taken in the first 48 hours of illness onset. While it seems like the cards are already stacked against it, there have been cold winters before that haven't resulted in higher-than-normal flu numbers. This spike could correlate to the close proximity people have with others during the holidays when they gather with family and friends.

According to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, a child in the central part of the state died last week from complications associated with flu. But health experts at the CDC say there are other, proven ways to help fight the flu.

The health department can bill insurance, but it also can serve those without insurance as well as those who are under-insured, Keller said. Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications. Yet, many North Carolinians go the entire flu season - October through May - without getting vaccinated. The most vulnerable groups to contract the disease remain the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems, who also happen to be the groups who might be least likely to vaccinate or be able to vaccinate. If not treated early, it can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

Not everyone with flu will have a fever.

The nasal spray, however, is not thought to be a worthwhile preventative measure against this flu.

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