ATLANTA (CBSMiami) – With this year’s flu season one of the worst on record, federal health officials are urging anyone who is sick to stay home.
More than 60 children have died from the virus and the Centers for Disease Control has said that the season may not have peaked yet.
The CDC said one in 10 deaths in the U.S. is currently due to influenza or pneumonia and one in 13 doctor visits last week was for flu symptoms.
“You’re probably contagious for 5-7 days after you’re really sick,” said Dr. Lolita McDavid.
More than 17-thousand people in the U.S. have been hospitalized for flu-related illnesses since October and the CDC says it may be several more weeks before we see the worst of it.
The CDC says you should seek immediate treatment if you develop flu symptoms which include a persistent high fever, breathing problems, and a rapid heartbeat.
“If you think you’re getting better and then it’s not getting better then you really need to seek medical attention because it may have now gone into your lungs and you may now have pneumonia,” said McDavid.
Health experts say it’s not too late to get a flu shot. While the vaccine appears to be less effective against the h3n2 flu strain dominating this season, it could lessen the severity of the illness.
They add that washing your hands with soap and water is more effective than using hand sanitizer at preventing the spread of the virus, but hand sanitizer is still better than nothing.