Flu season at its worst since 2013

2017-18 flu season is a rough one, but not something we haven't see before

Flu activity has rapidly increased in Connecticut over the last few weeks with more than 1,000 confirmed flu cases in the state, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

"In most years, a flu season lasts anywhere from six weeks to eight weeks to 10 weeks in any particular place, so we're not yet at peak, but we're hearing from hospitals across the state that many are full".

"This is a bad flu season", Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a conference call Friday.

Representatives from Central Health and Austin Regional clinic both said that it is not too late to get a flu shot and while it is less effective this year, it still offers a layer of protection.

"The manufacturers are reporting that they've shipped more than 151 million doses of flu vaccine so there should be product available to folks".

According to the Amarillo Public Health Department, there have been 3,303 cases in Randall and Potter counties alone.

It can be hard to tell in real time where a flu season will fall on the severity scale, because sometimes reports of influenza hospitalization and deaths - especially deaths among children - lag.

Jernigan said it looks more like the H3N2 portion of the vaccine is performing here like it did previous year, when it was 34 percent effective at preventing infection.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, cough, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and muscle aches. A 2017 study showed the flu vaccine can significantly reduce a child's risk of dying from influenza. Although, they said, the number of influenza cases surpassed the epidemic point in November. "There is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the type of influenza that we're seeing", Harris said. "The season has started early and is probably peaking right about now", he said.

The common cold and the flu can sometimes be confused due to their similar symptoms, but there are ways to tell which one you actually have.

It's unclear whether flu season this year has peaked, so Pedersen is recommending that people who haven't been immunized get that done.

It's also important to take other actions to stay healthy such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer or keep your germs contained by staying home when sick.

The CDC is highly recommending people get their flu shot despite any public consternation that this year's flu shot isn't a good defense against this year's virus.

The CDC last month reported that the 2017-18 flu season was ramping up at a faster pace than last season.

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