Key indicators that track flu activity remain high nationally, and, after falling during the first two weeks of the year, it increased over the last three weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Indicators that track overall severity — including hospitalizations and deaths — are not high at this point in the season, the CDC reports.
Statewide, there were 11 new outbreaks during the week ending Jan. 25, according to the Florida Department of Health. In Pasco County, there were at least five new outbreaks, the agency reported.
During the same week, Florida had seen its highest level of observed infections, in the season this far, the agency added.
The CDC reports that people who are more susceptible to the virus are those age 65 and older, children younger than age 5, and pregnant women.
In Pasco County, the public school district reported there have been outbreaks at six county schools since October.
And, as of Feb. 5, seven influenza-related deaths among children have been reported across Florida, according to the state department of health. All of those deaths involved children who had not been vaccinated, the agency adds.
“The AdventHealth West Florida Division is seeing flu numbers more than twice as high, compared to the same time last year,” said Ashley Jeffery of AdventHealth.
Dr. John Morrison, who practices family medicine at AdventHealth Wesley Chapel, said getting a flu shot is the best form of protection against the virus.
He also offered these preventative tips:
- Sanitizing surfaces before contact
- Avoiding close contact with those known to be infected
- Adequate rest
- Adequate hydration
- A healthy diet
“Eating a well-rounded diet can certainly help,” Morrison said. “Fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C and zinc can certainly play a role in the immune system.”
On average, 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the virus each year, according to the CDC.
Be on the lookout for these symptoms of the flu: Coughing, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue and/or diarrhea.
Sources for vaccinations can include local pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and schools.
For more information on the flu virus, visit CDC.gov/Flu/.
Published February 12, 2020