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How to track if a flu outbreak is in your area

How to track if a flu outbreak is in your area
© Sherry Young | Dreamstime.com

Did you get a flu shot this year? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone get a flu vaccination each year. That's because influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

This flu season is especially bad. There have already been 30 flu-related pediatric deaths reported to the CDC.

Early detection and response are key to preventing the spread of any disease. That's why it's so important to know if the flu is spreading at a high rate throughout your community. This cool site can help.

I'm talking about flunearyou.org.

The site allows individuals to report symptoms in real-time. This can complement traditional tracking while providing useful information directly to the public.

The process is voluntary and only takes a few seconds to report how you've been feeling. It's free and anonymous.

Thousands of reporters across the U.S. contribute to the site weekly, helping give as much accurate information as possible. The reports are collected and mapped so it's easy to find out when the flu is nearby.

The site is free and really easy to use. Simply type in your ZIP code into the search bar above the map and click the search arrow. The map then zooms into your location and gives you critical information related to the flu.

You will see the number and percentage of people in the area who are reporting flu-like symptoms. It also shows the number and percentage of people in the area who are reporting other symptoms. Finally, you will see the number and percentage of people who are reporting no symptoms at all.

If you are in a high-risk area, the CDC suggests these steps to prevent catching the flu:

  • Avoid close contact - Stay away from people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick - If possible, stay home from work, school, and running errands when you're sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose - Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Clean your hands - Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth - Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits - Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

To learn about flu outbreaks in your area, click on the link we've provided below to the Flu Near You site inside the blue box. If you're reading this article using the Komando.com app, you might not see the blue box. If not, click here to see it.

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