H-HEALTHY LIVING

Mar 3, 2011 6:16 PM by Bethany Tucker, KSBY News

45 states, including Calif., reporting widespread flu activity

At work, at the store, even in your own home. You can't get away from it: the flu.

The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows we're hitting the peak of flu season, and experts there say it may not be on the downswing yet.

"The flu has waited until February to show up," said Dr. Frank Esper, of UH Case Medical Center in Ohio. The flu now has many of us marching into doctors offices around the country.

At least 45 states, including California, are reporting widespread flu activity. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say there isn't one particular strain of flu that's taken over, and despite the recent spike in flu cases, it does appear the flu vaccine is a good match. "I think the problem is that a lot of people, uh, did not get a flu vaccine," said Dr. Esper.

Even those who did get a flu shot can come down with the illness. But, Dr. Esper says sick patients fare better if they're immunized. "The amount of days that they're sick is usually less, and the amount of virus that they can spread from one person to the next is less," he said.

CDC officials say cases will likely increase in the northwest soon because that's an area that hasn't seen much flu yet. But overall, the season has been fairly typical. In the past weeks, roughly five percent of doctor's office visits were for flu, which is higher than normal. However by the end of March, flu cases usually drop significantly.

There have been 41 pediatric deaths linked to flu this season, which is slightly higher than the 2008-2009 season. Experts do not look at the 2009-2010 season because of the H1N1 pandemic.

The Public Health Departments in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties both offer flu vaccines for a fee. In San Luis Obispo County, flu shots are available for a $20 fee. The San Luis Obispo County offices are located in San Luis Obispo (805-781-5500), Paso Robles (805-237-3050;) and Grover Beach (805-473-7050). In Santa Barbara County, the immunization clinics are located in Carpinteria, Santa Maria, Cuyama, Santa Maria and Lompoc. You can call for more information at (805) 346-8420.

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