CDC offers ways to prevent flu as influenza cases continue to rise in Ohio and across US

CLEVELAND - We've listed several things you can do to help prevent catching the flu bug, as influenza activity continues to increase in the U.S.

According to the CDC's latest FluView report, most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like illness.

Region 5, which includes Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, has the highest number of reported cases, with 58.4 percent of people in the region testing positive for a string of the flu.

There have also been five influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported, associated with influenza B viruses, according to the CDC.

On the CDC site, the organization lists "3 Actions" to take to prevent the flu bug.

1. Get a flu vaccine (especially young children, pregnant women, those with asthma and those 65 and older)

"While influenza vaccination offers the best protection we have against influenza, it's still possible that some people may become ill despite being vaccinated," explained Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in CDC's influenza division. "Health care providers and the public should remember that influenza antiviral medications are a second line of defense against influenza."

2. Take everyday measures to stop the spread of the germs
     - Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
     - Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
     - Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread that way.
     - Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
     - If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
     - While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
     - Influenza antiviral prescription drugs can be used to treat influenza or to prevent the flu.
     - Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They're prescription medicines that aren't available over-the-counter.
     - Antiviral drugs can make the flu milder and shorten the time you're sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
     - Studies show flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they're started within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu.
- FDA-approved flu antiviral medications recommended for use this flu season include: Tamiflu and Relenza. Both are chemically related antiviral medications known as neuraminidase inhibitors that have activity against both influenza A and B viruses.

Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever, the CDC notes.

To get more flu facts in the palm of you hand, you can download CDC's mobile site to your smartphone.

On the Web: CDC www.cdc.gov

Have a remedy to prevent or get rid of the flu? Let us know by commenting below.

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