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Flu season ramping up

ALBANY The flu has become widespread in 10 states across the country including New York and Massachusetts.  The CDC says H1N1 is the dominate flu strain circulating so far and unlike most other strains, H1N1 is more likely to sicken younger adults.  

This flu season, everyone needs to take precautions, The majority of hospitalizations for influenza occur in people 65 years of age or older and the majority of deaths are also in that group but we know that H1N1, this particular influenza virus, does cause more infections in younger adults ages 18-49, says Dr. Michael Jhung a CDC Medical Officer.   If you havent already had a flu shot, its not too late.  The shot normally takes two weeks to become effective and typically the height of flu season is February.  Every formulation of the vaccine that you can get this year will protect against H1N1 and it will also protect against other influenza viruses that we think are circulating, says Dr. Jhung.

Locally, county health departments across the Capitol Region are getting more confirmed cases of the flu every day, Initially, we were seeing one or two a day and now we're seeing several a day, says Marcia Fabiano an Epidemiologist with Albany County Health Department.   If you dont want to get a flu shot, doctors say you need to stay away from crowds and wash your hands several times a day.  If you come down with flu-like symptoms like a fever, cough, chills, fatigue, body aches, stay home.  Avoid contact with others at least until 24 hours after your fever breaks unless of course, you need to seek medical attention.  

A cold usually has gradual onset of symptoms, runny nose, scratchy throat, maybe a cough--with the flu it's a very abrupt onset, you'll have a sudden onset of fever, shaking, chills, muscles and body aches all over--you'll know that you have more than just a cold, says Fabiano.  There are anti-viral medications that can lessen the severity of the flu but they have to be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms and must be prescribed by a physician.