The past few weeks have seen an increase in the number of flu cases reported.
The Centers for disease Control reports that flu reports are widespread in 21 states, including Mississippi and Alabama. But officials at Rush Hospital say the recent upswing in flu cases is not normal.
"Usually our flu season starts just a little bit in October, and then usually by March or the beginning of April, it is over," said Teresa Caudille, Rush infection control nurse.
Even still, there are things you can do to prevent this. Flu shots are already available locally.
"You can start getting them now. The opportune time is the end of October to first of November," said Andie Ortlepp, Rush director of employee health.
There are groups of people who are especially vulnerable and need to get flu shots.
The recommendation is for small children and the elderly or anyone who has an immuno-suppressed health system to get a flu shot early.
There are actually two types of flu shots that will be available this year. One for the seasonal flu, one that people would get every year. But it will not afford you protection against the H1N1, or swine flu.
There are other ways to help prevent the spread of flu. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours after leaving our bodies. When we cough on our hands and open a door, the virus can live on the door handle, and that's why washing your hands is so vitally important.
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