The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recently announced that the 2016-2017 seasonal flu has reached epidemic levels, with widespread activity reported in 43 states across the country. Pennsylvania has reported widespread flu activity for the past eight consecutive weeks and anticipates that status to remain as such for the next several weeks. 33,271 influenza cases and 51 flu-related fatalities have been reported to the Department of Health so far this season.
The Department of Health recommends that anyone who has not yet received his or her flu shot should do so as soon as possible, as it takes two weeks for the body to build the resistance given by the vaccine.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first step in protecting against influenza. The CDC stresses that it is even more important for those at higher risk of getting the flu to get their flu shot. High-risk groups include:
- Children and infants;
- Pregnant women;
- People with disabilities; and
- People with health conditions.
Symptoms of the flu range from mild to severe, but severe infection can lead to hospitalization or even death, no matter your age or health status. Common symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills;
- Sore throat;
- Runny or stuffy nose;
- Muscle or body aches;
- Fatigue; and
- Vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
In addition to getting your flu shot, you should wash your hands often, avoid sneezing into your hands, limit touching your own face, clean doorknobs and handles and stay home from school or work when you have the flu.
For more information about the flu, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow on Facebook and Twitter.