(WTVM) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu epidemic is sweeping across the country and those who got vaccinated may not be protected.
A flu epidemic simply means the virus is spreading quickly and experts are seeing more cases in a specific time frame than they expect. Right now the virus is spreading so rapidly that 43 states are reporting widespread activity, compared to 36 states last week.
At least 21 children have died across the country from flu-related illness. The CDC now says we are in a flu epidemic, and the latest strain, called H3N2 is partly to blame.
"What we're seeing in the
numbers is that a lot of the spikes are coming in with younger people for getting the flu," said Pam Fair, public information officer with the Department of Public Health. "But often times what we see in deaths is older people or people who have health conditions."
The Georgia Department of Health is reporting widespread flu activity across the state. So far, there have been 13 flu-related deaths this season and more than 450 people have been hospitalized. The highest number of deaths were among those age 65 and older.
In Alabama, Lee, Russell and Barbour counties are among those reporting significant flu activity.
"Just making sure that you dress in layers so you can be appropriately warm on the outside and be able to adjust your temperature indoors," Fair advised. "That will keep your temperature regulated."
The Alabama Department of Health says you should take the following steps to fight the flu:
- Get vaccinated; even though the dominant strain isn't covered, you never know what strain you could pick up.
- Wash your hands and cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you have a fever.
- Clean and disinfect the areas you live and work in.
- Just in case, stockpile supplies like tissues, hand sanitizer, and medication.
Experts say the flu season started early so it could peak sometime this month, but the virus is unpredictable. Right now, it looks like it could get worse before it gets any better.