The flu is back, and if early signs are any indication of what is to come, it could be a rough ride. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that their epidemiologists are seeing the earliest start to flu season in almost a decade. States that are being hit especially hard include Rhode Island, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri. Early reports from parts of Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina and New York suggest that hospitals in many other regions are also experiencing overflowing emergency rooms with patients suffering from flu-like symptoms.
In theory the flu shot is a good match for the strains of flu circulating this year, and public health officials for the CDC are encouraging people to get their shots now before the flu peaks. Over the holiday season many people will be exposed to influenza viruses during visits to family and friends. Now more than ever people need to wash their hands when coming in contact with surfaces such as light switches, gas pumps, cell phones or TV remotes that may harbor flu viruses.
Those who start to develop symptoms may wish to consult our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu for recommendations on treating symptoms with medications and home remedies.