Flu shots urged as illness envelops the nation - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Flu shots urged as illness envelops the nation

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Texas and other states highlighted in brown were experiencing widespread flu activity for the week ending November 23. (CDC) Texas and other states highlighted in brown were experiencing widespread flu activity for the week ending November 23. (CDC)

SHERMAN, Texas -- Federal health officials say nearly the entire country is now dealing with the flu. The illness has spread significantly in all but seven states.

The Centers for Disease Control said the flu season got off to an early start this year and is already considered deadly. It is not looking like a good start.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says flu-related hospitalizations continue to increase. They urge residents to get flu shots now.

Doctors in Grayson County say they're seeing lots of patients with flu or flu-like symptoms. Dr. Alex Roby at Red River ER in Sherman said flu activity in North Texas has increased heavily in the last two weeks, and it looks as if the season is going to be prolonged.

A flu shot helps prevent the illness and lessen the intensity of symptoms, but it also helps the CDC determine how effective their vaccines are.

One of the biggest problems with influenza and trying to contain it is that you can be symptomatic before you start showing signs of the infection.

"Typically, you don't actually have any symptoms for the first couple of days, but you can be contagious... most predominantly for the first four to five days, but even up to 10 days in some cases," Dr. Roby said. "So, in an effort to eliminate the spread of flu, we want to encourage everyone to practice proper hygiene, including hand-washing, but most importantly covering their mouth or coughing in and sneezing into their armpit to eliminate the spread."

Dr. Roby recommends the magic "six feet away" rule: An infection has a harder time spreading at that distance.

The CDC said at least five children have died so far from the flu this season, including one in Texas.

Flu season usually lasts until February, so there is plenty of time to get that flu shot. The Texas Department of State Health Services says getting the flu is easy, but getting a flu shot is even easier.

Here's a handy tool to help you locate a flu vaccine provider near you:

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Flu shots urged as illness envelops the nation

The CDC says influenza has spread significantly in all but seven states.

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