If your Christmas reunion is taking you across the country, understand the Flu has already traveled there, no matter where you're headed.
The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show the virus has now been recorded in every state but is widespread in 36 states. Even though this year's flu shot isn't as plentiful or effective as officials had hoped, there are still others ways to reduce your risk, and to lessen the effects of the flu if you do get it.
First, the CDC says everybody can use a dose of common sense, that means avoid crowds when possible, wash your hands frequently, and it's not a bad idea to carry around a hand sanitizer. And for people who need real protection, a mask would help if you find yourself in a high risk situation. If you do come down with the flu, seek treatment as soon as possible because there is medication that can help shorten the duration of the flu, but timing is everything.
"The meds that work against the virus need to be started within 48 hours, so you need to see your doctor," explains Dr. Leslie McKinney.
Flu symptoms include sudden high fever, headache, and muscle aches. Health officials say it's not yet clear if the season may end early because it started early, but already, the Lubbock Health Department says we are seeing fewer cases reported here locally. But remember, the season is young and the CDC warns that on average in this country, 114,000 people are hospitalized from the flu ever year and 36,000 of them die.