Federal health officials report that cases of flu are on the rise right now and the predominant strain is the H1N1 “swine” flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the six states experiencing high influenza activity are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Five deaths have already been reported in Texas.
The H1N1 flu virus, which first emerged in 2009, is different from other types of flu because it tends to strike younger adults harder than older adults.
Flu is typically a bigger threat to people 65 and older and very young children and people with chronic medical conditions.
The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine protects against the H1N1 flu. There is still time to get vaccinated. The flu season usually reaches its peak in January or February.
Doctors and clinics are advised to make sure they have sufficient flu vaccine in stock. Flu activity is expected to increase nationwide during the next several weeks.
It takes two weeks to be fully protected after receiving the vaccine so people are advised to get their flu shot as soon as possible.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated against the flu. While annual vaccination is the best tool for prevention of influenza and its complications, treatment with antiviral drugs is an important second line of defense for those who become ill.