Flu season is here and the virus is spreading quickly in various states. In Minnesota, 33 deaths were confirmed and more than 400 people hospitalized in the second week in January alone, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The Star Tribune reports that flu outbreaks were reported at 92 schools and 46 nursing homes last week. Since October, 60 people have died of flu-related causes in Minnesota, and more than 1,800 have been hospitalized.
In New Mexico, health officials have confirmed the first five flu deaths of this season, majority of the cases involved older people.
In Oklahoma, flu hospitalizations have reached 484 since Sept. 30. As of Jan. 15, the number of deaths attributed to complications from the flu is eight — four of the cases occurred in people age 19 to 64 and four deaths in people age 65 and older, the Yahoo! News reports.
In Washington, flu activity is now classified as widespread. Vaccine for adults is available in most Washington communities, though some providers may run out.
“Flu is a serious illness that can be fatal, and several Washington residents have died from influenza this season,” Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a news release. “Taking simple steps to prevent the flu can help people avoid this miserable and potentially dangerous illness. We urge people who haven’t been vaccinated to do it now.”
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Even healthy people can get flu, but older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. Although the flu season began earlier than anticipated, it is expected to peak in January or February.
Symptoms of flu include fever and chills, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches, and extreme tiredness. Most people who get the flu will recover in less than two weeks, but some will develop complications, such as bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infection, dehydration or worsening of chronic health conditions. For some people, these complications can result in hospitalization or death.
Health officials are urging people, particularly those at high risk, to get flu vaccine and take preventive measures, like frequent washing of hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.