UPDATED 1:28 PM PT — Friday, January 11, 2019
Flu season was off to a slow start, but has picked up in recent weeks. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data, which shows between 6.2 million and 7.3 million people have gotten sick from the flu since October.The analysis also indicates between 69,000 and 83,000 people have been hospitalized, and several deaths have been reported.
According to experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the flu is an easily spread respiratory tract infection.
“The Flu virus is easily transmitted person to person through coughing, sneezing and unwashed hands,” explained. Dr. Lisa Maragakis, Director of Infection Prevention at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Particularly when people are indoors in close proximity to each other, flu and other respiratory viruses are transmitted quite quickly through populations.”
Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, headaches and fatigue. The flu can infect anyone, but those most vulnerable are children, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
Health officials have recommended using any licensed age-appropriate flu vaccine.
“The most important protection against influenza is the influenza vaccine,” said Dr. Aaron Milstone, associate epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “In addition to that though, people need to be very smart in the winter — we need to use good respiratory etiquette, so if you’re sick you need to cover your mouth, cough into your sleeve, wash your hands really well.”
Officials said the vaccines can provide protection against infection, and they urge anyone over six-months of age should get vaccinated.