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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Flu's Back

Spring's been bouncing in and out over the last few weeks: it's flu season again!  Roughly 3 dozen flu patients have been hospitalized so far in Ann Arbor, and all but one has been seen since January 1.  H1N1 is still alive and well in Washtenaw County; but don't worry, the new flu vaccines protect against swine flu as well as the other flu strains.
Influenza got a slow start this year, with just a few cases reported last fall, but over the last few weeks it's picked up speed.  Flu is now circulating in all 50 states, and it's widespread in 37.  Around 200,000 Americans are hospitalized, and around 37,000 die, as a result of influenza in an average year.
Flu activity will continue into March.  Early signs include fever and chills, sore throat and cough, runny or stuffy nose, head and body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and overall fatigue.  Tamiflu and other antivirals work best if they're started as soon as possible after the first symptoms appear.  And It's still not too late to prevent them altogether, with a quick flu shot.