By Holly Lebowitz Rossi
January 10, 2013

This season's outbreak of influenza, or flu, is raging across the country, taking kids out of school and parents out of work at levels that dwarf last year's flu season.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that more than half of the country's states have reported widespread infection levels, flu has hospitalized more than 2,200 people across the country, and 18 children have died as a result of infection.  It is not too late, CDC officials say, for people to get--and be protected by--the flu vaccine.

The CDC says it will release updated information on Friday.  Meanwhile, it offers these tips to prevent the spread of seasonal flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

Image: Flu-stricken woman, via Shutterstock

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