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Flu Activity Increases in the U.S.

One death reported; flu vaccine still the best prevention, experts say

BALTIMORE, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Influenza activity is increasing across the United States for this year's flu season. One influenza-associated pediatric death has been reported this year already in the United States, according to the CDC. This month the flu trend in the U.S. moved from low to moderate.

Getting the influenza vaccine now will still protect you from the flu this season. "The flu season extends from November through March," said Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health, the largest provider of travel medical services and immunizations in the U.S. "Passport Health is committed to reducing the occurrence and impact of the flu by offering flu vaccinations at all of our 170 offices nationwide."

The influenza/flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the influenza illness. The vaccine offers protection against a range of flu strains. Immunization provided by the vaccine lasts for 4 months and is safe for children over 6 months of age and adults.

Antiviral drugs can prevent and treat the flu. The CDC issued new guidelines in December and doctors were told to substitute an alternative antiviral, Relenza, for Tamiflu, or to combine Tamiflu with an older antiviral, rimantadine, if the H1N1 virus was the main strain circulating in their communities as Tamiflu no longer works in the dominant flu strain. "This is another reason why getting vaccinated is important," commented Lessans.

The flu is a contagious infection caused by the influenza virus and can be spread through the air when a person sneezes or coughs or through direct contact with an infected person. The flu can cause serious illness in young children under age 5, adults over the age of 50 and persons with a chronic illness.

Symptoms of the flu include high fever, chills, headache, runny nose, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, muscle, nausea and vomiting.

Other ways of preventing the flu include covering your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. "Sneezing or coughing in your hands is the quickest way to spread the virus so if you do cough or sneeze in your hands wash them with warm water and soap immediately," said Lessans.

Passport Health has flu vaccinations ready in all of its 170 offices nationwide. For more information or to learn more about flu clinics visit or call 1-888-499-PASS(7277).

    Brianne Lacey

SOURCE Passport Health
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