The flu has hit early and hard this season in Georgia. Nationwide, 41 out of 50 states are reporting widespread flu.
Flu season doesn't typically begin until February. According to Google Flu Trends, the current flu season in the Atlanta-area is "intense."
Anecdotally, one particular strain of flu going around metro-Atlanta seems to be rougher than usual: it lasts 5-8 days, and has symptoms that include a high fever (between 101 and 105 in both adults and children), aches and pain in the legs and hips, a cough, sore throat and fatigue, followed by a few days of what seems like a cold, with swollen lymph nodes.
“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC’s Influenza Division. “Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons."
Another bug that's going around is a 24-hour stomach bug, which includes vomiting and diarrhea.
If you feel that you're coming down with these symptoms, you can take over-the-counter medications like Tamiflu, Relenza, or Tylenol Cold and Flu. A heating pad for the aches and pains does wonders, as does a humidifier for the cough. And don't forget to drink lots of water or tea.
Do what you can to lower that fever too, including cool baths, an over-the-counter fever reducer and cool rag.
It spreads via infected people coughing, sneezing or talking, though people can also get infected by touching something with the flu virus on it before touching their mouth, eyes or nose. If you don't feel good, stay home, because it's very contagious.
While around 5.5 percent of all doctor's visits in Georgia are for the flu-like symptoms, hospitals recommend that you do not go to the emergency room for them.
Officials say it's not too late to get a flu vaccine, although it takes a couple of weeks to build up immunity, according to FOX.
Cascade area residents who want to get vaccinated can do so at multiple locations, including:
-Adamsville Regional Health Center – 3700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., SW, Atlanta, 404-613-4215
-College Park Regional Health Center -1920 John E. Wesley Ave., College Park, 404-765-4155
-Lakewood Health Center - 1853 Jonesboro Rd., SE, Atlanta, 404-624-0626
Vaccines are available from 9:00am – 4:00pm
Vaccines cost $25; however, they are often covered by insurance.
Fulton County Health Services encourages every healthy individual over the age of 6 months to get the flu vaccine.
Flu shots are an inactivated vaccine made from killed virus, which means it’s impossible to get the flu from the vaccine, according to Dr. Angela Rasmussen, an infectious disease expert.
There are currently three flu shots being produced in the U.S.: the regular (intramuscular) seasonal flu shot, a high-dose vaccine for people 65 and older, and an intradermal (injected into the skin) vaccine for people ages 18 to 64.
In addition, a nasal-spray flu vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses (which also do not cause the flu) is available to healthy people ages 2 to 49-years-old, except pregnant women.
The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site.