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Our View: Take action to halt the spread of flu

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 11:28 p.m. CST

Having the flu is a miserable experience.

The influenza virus can lead to more than a week of aching muscles, coughing, chills, dry cough, headaches, nausea and other unpleasantness.

Flu activity usually peaks in January and February, and in Illinois it has begun to spike, with influenza widespread and flu-like illness activity high, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the week that ended Dec. 28 in Illinois, 42 people went to intensive care and two died because of complications from the flu, and 150 people tested positive for influenza – all the highest numbers of the season so far. That means it’s time to take serious steps to protect yourself and others from the spreading flu.

Health officials say the best defense for everyone older than six months is to get a flu shot. If you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s not too late. Flu vaccine is available at most drug stores, your doctor’s office or an immediate care clinic. A list of locations and prices near you is available online at www.flushot.healthmap.org.

To prevent the spread of germs to others, it’s also good practice to remember the “3 C’s”: Clean your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, and contain germs by staying home if you get sick, rather than going to work or venturing out.

The flu costs Americans about $4.6 billion a year in doctor visits, medications and more. About 111 million workdays are lost to the flu each year at a cost of about $7 billion, the CDC says.

Those younger than 2 or older than 65, or those with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes, are most susceptible to complications of the flu, which can include potentially fatal pneumonia.

The flu is no joke. It’s worth doing whatever it takes to avoid it and stop it spreading to others.

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