CDC says flu epidemic in 47 states

Saturday, January 12, 2013 - 10:40pm

If you haven't already come down with it, you probably know somebody who has. The flu has reached epidemic levels in the U.S..

The Centers for Disease Control says the flu is tearing through 47 states, including Texas and New Mexico. People around the country line up for a flu shot, the last line of defense in an epic flu season that's only half over.

"I suspect in most parts of the country, we'll continue to see influenza activity for several more weeks," said Dr. Joe Bresee with the Centers for Disease Control.

Here in El Paso, no one is off limits, coworkers, family members and that means you're at risk too.

"These three weeks have been particularly busy with flu type symptoms probably at every medical facility," said Dr. Sergio Ibarra, with Southwest Urgent Care.

Symptoms include:

" High fever, usually severe body ache, severe headaches as well as the usual viral symptoms, which would be a runny nose, cough, sore throat and sometimes stomach issues," said Ibarra.

Veronica Logan and her six year old daughter Kaili are visiting Dr.Ibarra. Logan worries all four of her kids will get sick, and she worries most about her baby.

"Its really scary to know that the 5 month old can get the flu but he cant get the flu shot yet,” said Logan.

Veronica hasn't come down with the flu this year, but last year she wasn't so lucky.

"You get tired, you feel like you can't do anything at all," said Logan.

Dr. Ibarra says there might be a reason why some hospitals are seeing more flu cases.

"Little bit higher during the holidays because a lot of physicians offices were closed and urgent care and ER's were left to see the sick patients. It might have peaked a little bit earlier than last year because of that," said Ibarra.

So how do you prevent it?

“Make sure they wash their hands, stop putting their hands around their mouth and their face. And a whole lot of kids at school are getting it and getting real sick and its just really scary," said Logan.

Dr. Ibarra offers a few ways to take precaution:

"If you have a cough, cover your cough. If you are sick with a fever its probably best to stay home away from school and away from work," said Dr. Ibarra.

While this means some people who get vaccinated will still get the flu, experts say the illness likely won't be as severe. And antiviral drugs like Tamiflu are working against the flu, helping shorten the amount of time people feel sick.

For more information on the different strains of flu, visit the CDC website.

For vaccine locators click here.

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