Epidemiologists and the Centers for Disease Control say the flu virus has become widespread in 10 states, mainly in the Northeast and South, as the 2013-2014 flu season approaches its peak.
In its weekly survey of state epidemiologists, the CDC reported that cases of influenza were widespread in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, Wyoming and Alaska; last week, just four states reported widespread outbreaks. Twenty-three more states have reported regional outbreaks.
H1N1, the strain of the virus responsible for a global outbreak in 2009 and better known as swine flu, is the most prevalent form of the flu hitting the country this year.
Flu activity is increasing across the country, the CDC says in its weekly report. In eight of 10 regions, it was above regional baselines; only the Southwest has so far escaped the worst of this year’s flu season. And the CDC says flu season hasn’t yet hit its peak.
Data collected through a network called ILINet, which measures outpatient visits to health-care professionals for influenza-like illnesses, showed that activity was highest in Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi last week.
Google, which is tracking flu searches on its search engine, likewise concludes that the South is being hit hardest by the flu virus this year, though the number of states with higher than average flu-related searches is on the rise.
(Click here for a state-by-state map of flu-related searches)
So, drink some orange juice, put on a sweater, and don’t forget to cough into your sleeve.