Samaritan limits visitors during flu season

The flu is now widespread in 36 states and highly active in 21 of those, according to the latest figures from the CDC

According to the CDC, as of last week, 36 states have widespread flu activity up from the 23 states the week before. From a financial perspective, the increase in hospitalizations and emergency department foot traffic would appear to benefit hospitals, since the flu usually requires cheap treatment such as rest, fluids and antiviral medications. One of the main reasons for the upsurge in flu related illnesses is a general misconception about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine this year. It typically lasts until the middle of March, he said.

¯ Stay home when you are sick.

Health officials are urging people to get protected, especially if they're going to be around young children and the elderly, groups who are most at risk.

Visitors with influenza-like illnesses, fever or cough.

"It is coming, this is the future of flu vaccines - to have a universal flu vaccine", Fuller said.

The flu, unlike the common cold, begins abruptly. "The strain that we're seeing right now-Type A, H3N2-could be replaced by another strain at any time, which translates to more complications and more hospitalizations".

Prevent the spread of germs; washing hands often with soap and water or alcohol based hand rub, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, avoid touching your eyes, clean and disinfect objects.

Comer also reminds hospital staff to remain clean to protect patients. "Use it whenever you touch door knobs or open doors".

For people who get the flu, he said, the best thing to do is to go see a health professional who can prescribe medication to help.

Texas hospital laboratories reported 710 Influenza A cases and 67 Influenza B cases among 777 patients who tested positive for the flu during Week 51 of the flu season. "Even if the vaccine isn't as effective this year as we might hope it to be, it still is the best insurance of not getting seriously ill from the flu".

"You can still be protected by getting the flu vaccination", Dr. Joyce Olutade said.

"Flu vaccination is not a ideal tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection", the CDC said.

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