(RxWiki News) As more states report flu cases and hospitalizations climb, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared the flu an epidemic.
In its most recent weekly flu report, the CDC found that the number of states with high rates of flu-like illnesses spiked from 13 to 22 in the span of one week.
The CDC recommends that people take preventive measures, which include frequent hand-washing, avoid sick people and get vaccinated against the flu. Anyone experiencing symptoms of the flu — which include a high fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue and nausea — should seek immediate medical care.
According to the CDC, about half the US is reporting high levels of flu-related sickness. And these rates spiked last week in several states. The states hit the hardest have been largely in the South, Midwest and West.
“The one thing we know about influenza is that it is unpredictable,” said Patsy Stinchfield, director of infection prevention and control with Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, according to ABC News. “We don't fully understand why but low vaccination rates may have something to do with areas getting hit harder.”
Flu vaccines can protect patients against the flu. And while the vaccine protects against only a few strains of the flu virus, the CDC still recommends that people get the vaccine as soon as possible.
"Flu activity is expected to continue in the coming weeks, with increases occurring especially in those states that have not yet had significant activity," according to the CDC report.
"CDC continues to recommend vaccination as long as flu viruses are circulating. If you have not been vaccinated yet this season, get vaccinated now."