HOUSTON - You may be noticing more empty desks at the office this year. The flu is running rampant all across our area.
Fever, chills, cough and body aches. The flu usually comes on suddenly and can completely sideline you.
While most people recover in a few days or weeks, it can be deadly and that's why experts say it's critical to get the flu shot.
Kelsey-Seybold Immunization expert Dr. Melanie Mouzoon told Local 2, "In Texas and particularly in Houston, we are really in the midst of a flu epidemic, more than a slight uptick."
Flu View, which provides weekly updates on the flu season from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is reporting an uptick in the number of cases across the country, especially in the south.
Though there's no sign of a major outbreak at this time, Dr. Mouzoon said the vaccine available now is the best to date.
Dr. Mouzoon explained, "This year, the vaccine is a good match for the circulating virus. So any (form of the flu) vaccine that you chose to get is likely to protect you against the flu about 70 percent of the time."
If you do come down with the flu, antivirals like Tamiflu and Relenza may help, especially when taken within the first two days.
Dr. Mouzoon explained, "The antivirals are kind of like birth control for flu viruses. So they don't actually kill any flu viruses, but they keep the viruses from multiplying."
To reduce the spread of flu, doctors say wash your hands with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Avoid close contact with others who are sick. If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
Don't think it's too late to get the flu vaccine. Doctors say the flu season usually peaks in January and February.
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