Flu season can last through May and here’s what you need to know

Flu season is here — and it's far from over. Flu activity is high in Georgia and 29 other states, according to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention. Here's six things  you need to know about this year's flu:

Flu activity still high in Georgia. After a recent spike, flu activity in Georgia has decreased but remains high. After flu rates rose sharply before Christmas, they dropped and then started rising again during recent weeks. Since the flu season began in early October, the illness has killed 15 people in Georgia — 14 adults and one child. And there have been 1,147 hospitalizations in metro Atlanta due to flu symptoms.

Still, this season is shaping up to be far milder than last year. The 2018-2019 flu season is shaping up to be a relatively mild season. Georgia's 2017-18 severe flu season claimed at least 154 lives statewide and led to more than 3,000 hospitalizations in metro Atlanta. Local health officials called it the worst outbreak in decades.

Still time to get the flu shot. Flu activity tends to peak between December and February but can last as late as May. Even if a flu vaccine does not completely protect you or your family from having the flu, people who get flu shots tend to experience fewer days of symptoms, less severe symptoms and are less likely to need medical care.

A circulating strain may not exhibit all symptoms.  One strain of the flu circulating may be more difficult to diagnose. Some patients are testing positive for the strain with only a fever and no other symptoms, which can make a diagnosis more challenging. Doctors say a fever should not be taken lightly. The CDC recommends that anyone with a fever stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone (except to get medical care or other necessities). The fever should be gone for at least 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol.

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People should always practice good health hygiene, but it is particularly important now with the flu going around. Hand hygiene should be practiced by everyone. Wash your hands, and your children's hands, frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing. You can also use an alcohol-based sanitizer to keep hands clean. Cover your cough and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or a tissue that is then discarded.

Taking care of yourself can help stave off illness. To help your immune system be in good enough shape to fight off the flu and other germs, eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep and exercise.

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