An estimated 36,000 people die from the flu and its complications in a typical season, according to the CDC. From 1976 to 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
Flu season usually peaks in late January or early February.
The best defense against the flu is the flu vaccine, the CDC said. The agency recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older gets vaccinated.
Two antiviral medications, Tamiflu and Relenza, can reduce flu symptoms and the course of the disease. To be effective, however, they must be started within 48 hours after symptoms appear.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, head and body aches, and runny nose. People at particular risk for flu and its complications include pregnant women, those 65 and older, and anyone with a chronic illness. The CDC urges these people to get the flu vaccine, which is available as an injection or nasal spray and in a stronger dose for seniors.
For more on the flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: March 22, 2013, The Associated Press; March 22, 2013, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FluView
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