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Flu Bug: It's Widespread In Virginia

The flu virus is widespread in Virginia, but it's not too late to get vaccinated. While it strikes the youngest and oldest hard, more than 60 percent of those who wind up in the hospital are people aged 18-64.

An image of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. Photo Credit: C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish, CDC.
An image of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. Photo Credit: C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish, CDC.
By Jane Lemons

Flu activity is increasing across the country and continues to be widespread in Virginia, federal and state health officials report.

Thirty-five states are now experiencing widespread flu activity, while twenty states are reporting high levels of influenza-like illness, according to the Centers of Disease Control. Virginia is in both of those categories.

For the week ending Jan. 4, CDC reported that 20 states, including Virginia, experienced high flu-like activity, which indicates the amount of flu-like illness that is occurring in each state. The District of Columbia did not have sufficient data to calculate an activity level.

Over the same time period, 35 states, including Virginia, reported widespread geographic influenza activity, which indicates how many areas within a state are seeing flu activity. The District of Columbia was among those reporting local activity.

The flu season generally peaks in January and February, but can continue as late as May. It's not too late to vaccinate against the flu, with a shot or a nasal spray. Health officials recommend that anyone aged 6 months and older who has not gotten a flu vaccine yet this season should get one now.

Find out where to get a flu shot near you. You can also use this Flu Vaccine Finder at flu.gov.

Here's a look at some common myths about the flu and why it's worth it to get a flu shot.

The CDC reports that between October 1, 2013 and January 4, there were 2,622 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations. The most affected age groups are those aged 4 years and younger or those aged 65 years and over. However, those aged 18-64 years account for 61 percent of the reported hospitalized cases. Officials also point out that this data is representative and  does not reflect the actual total number of flu-related hospitalizations.

In addition, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza increased this week to 6.9 percent of all deaths in the reported jurisdictions, but remains below threshold to be considered an epidemic.

During the past reporting week, there were four flu-related deaths among children younger than 18, bringing the number ofpediatric deaths for this flu season to 10.

Flu season is here, with cases widespread in Virginia, but it's not too late to get a flu shot or nasal spray. Check out these previous stories:

Flu Season Is Here, But It's Not Too Late To Vaccinate
See where to get a flu shot near you.

Flu Season: How To Know If That's What You've Got
One in five Americans gets the flu, and here's how to know whether you've got it.

Think You Have The Flu? Here's The Best Treatment Plan: See how to treat the flu with and without medications.

Flu Season Is Here: What's The Best Way To Take Care Of Sick PeopleLearn how to help a sick person feel better and avoid getting sick yourself.

Don't Want To Get The Flu? Here's How To Prevent The Virus From SpreadingPrevent the virus from spreading by taking common sense steps in your everyday routine.

For more information about influenza, its symptoms, prevention and treatment, or cases reported, you can visit flu.gov, the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, or the District of Columbia Department of Health.

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