Flu Activity in Most States
Our interactive map tracks the geographic spread of influenza.
Find out what you can do to fight the flu.
Our flu tracker lists the spread of the flu in four categories:
- None: the flu is absent or was not reported
- Low: sporadic cases are reported
- Medium: regional cases are reported
- High: the flu is widespread
When Should You Get Your Flu Shot?
Here's what the CDC says, "October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, but you can still get vaccinated in December and later. Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May." And if the vaccine is available earlier in August or September, there is no down side to getting the flu vaccine that early.
Who Needs the Shot?
The Centers for Disease Control now recommends that everyone older than 6 months of age get flu vaccine.
Some people are at higher risk of complications from the flu. It is especially important for the to get vaccinated every year. This includes:
- Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of people at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
It's also smart to do whatever you can to avoid getting sick. Follow these steps:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Keep your distance from others if you are sick.
- If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick, and don't send your children to child care or school if they are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your hands often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to help prevent infection from germs that are on your hands.
Influenza typically kills more than 36,000 Americans each year, including some children and many senior citizens. It can affect people of all ages. Most people who get influenza will have a mild illness. They might miss a day or two of school or work, but most will recover with no problem.
Although most cases of influenza can be treated safely at home, CDC officials said it's important to know when to seek a doctor's care.
The CDC says children or adults with flu should see a doctor if:
- They experience rapid breathing or difficulty in breathing
- They can't or won't drink enough fluids
- Fever remains high for more than four days
- Skin color changes to a bluish tone
- The patient becomes lethargic or especially irritable
- The mental state becomes altered, such as feeling confused or faint
- Chest pain or discomfort occurs
- Symptoms go away and then come back worse, which may indicate a new bacterial infection such as pneumonia
The Bird Flu
U.S. officials have expressed concern about outbreaks of flu that have killed many thousands of birds in an increasing number of countries, mostly in Asia. This type of flu has infected more than 120 people who were in close contact with infected birds. The death rate for infected people has been about 50%.
Bird (avian) flu has not been reported in the United States, and it does not spread easily from person to person. However, health officials worldwide worry that at some point the virus could change genetically in ways that would allow it to spread rapidly among people. Officials do not expect such a change any time soon, but they are developing plans in order to be prepared.
Check out our interactive flu map.
Last updated March 11, 2013
This interactive map tracks the geographic spread of influenza. It does not measure the severity of influenza activity.
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