The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the flu is now widespread and the number of cases is continuing to increase.
“Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” according to Dr. Joe Bresee.
Bresee advises it is not too late to get a flu shot.
“Anyone who has not already been vaccinated should do so now,” Bresee said in a released statement. “And it’s important to remember that people who have severe influenza illness, or who are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications, should get treated with influenza antiviral medications if they get flu symptoms regardless of whether or not they got vaccinated. Also, you don’t need to wait for a positive laboratory test to start taking antivirals.”
Influenza--more commonly known as simply "the flu"--is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. It spreads via infected people coughing, sneezing or talking, though people can also get infected by touching something with the flu virus on it before touching their mouth, eyes or nose.
The primary type of flu causing illness this season is influenza A (H3N2), which so far has accounted for about 76 percent of cases. Of the types of viruses in circulation, 91 percent are a match for those included in the 2012-2013 vaccine.
“While influenza vaccination offers the best protection we have against influenza, it's still possible that some people may become ill despite being vaccinated,” says Bresee. “Health care providers and the public should remember that influenza antiviral medications are a second line of defense against influenza.”
In early December, the CDC warned this year's flu season could be one of the worst and recommended that everyone 6 months and up get an annual flu vaccine.