The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say another wave of severe flu infections is sweeping the nation.
In its latest update on the illness, the Arkansas Department of Health is reporting widespread flu activity in the state, and the CDC says this flu season may not have even hit its peak.
“It’s still very contagious. We’re still seeing a lot of people with the illness, and then also occasionally some people that unfortunately need to be admitted,” said Dr. Matt Young with the Texarkana Emergency Center.
The Arkansas Department of Health is reporting 19 flu deaths last month, which is about a third of all deaths reported in the state for the entire flu season. Of those who died, 70 percent did not receive the flu vaccine.
The CDC says the flu vaccine is more effective this season at preventing the illness.
“Last year it was about 25 percent effective, this year for adults it’s about 57 percent and even the pediatric population closer to 61 percent,” said Young.
Young said the flu virus can live for 24 hours on surfaces outside the body.
“Lysol and the antivirals and antibacterials will get rid of it quicker,” he said.
That’s why it’s so important to keep your hands clean and steer clear of anyone who’s sick. If you do start to feel flu symptoms, like fever, sore throat or body aches – don’t wait to see a doctor.
“Usually we can get you on an anti-viral medicine that will decrease the length, decrease the severity of the symptoms, and hopefully get you better sooner,” said Young.
Young said the sickness will still have to run its course, but visiting your healthcare provider within 48 hours can also help avoid further complications.
“There is no real cure for getting the flu,” said Young. “The cure is the prevention.”
Getting a flu shot is one way to prevent the flu.
Even though flu season typically lasts until April, with the high level of flu activity currently in the four-states region, Young said it will still provide protection.