Alabama's flu season in full swing - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Alabama's flu season in full swing

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Huntsville family doctor Tim Howard described this year's flu strains as familiar ones. (Source: MGN Online) Huntsville family doctor Tim Howard described this year's flu strains as familiar ones. (Source: MGN Online)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

The flu season is hitting hard in Alabama and doctors warn to prepare to prevent it, or contain it if it hits.

Flu View, the CDC's weekly report on the flu season, ranks Alabama as one of the top three states in the country for levels of "influenza like illness" (ILI), likely the flu, resulting in patients going to their doctors or the hospital for outpatient treatment. The latest available survey by the CDC categorizes ILI activity in the state as "high."

Huntsville family doctor Tim Howard described this year's flu strains as familiar ones. "Most of them are pretty straightforward," he said, "with your clear runny nose, dry cough, muscle aches, high fevers."

Howard repeated the warning that very young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most in danger from the flu, but urged everyone to get flu shots which he said seem to be well matched to this year's strains of flu.

The weather, he cautioned, may be playing a role. "We're seeing a little bit of the cold snap early," he observed. "So we'll probably see a little bit more as we go forward, especially if the weather stays cold.  It's going to tend to bring people indoors, more viruses getting together and much more likely to spread the flu."

When someone actually does come down with the flu, Howard suggested isolation and careful hygiene. "When they cough, it gets in the air," he said.  "It gets to another person, that kind of thing.  You want to have good hand washing. If you sneeze or cough on a hand and  you  shake somebody's hand, there you're getting virus conveyed to the next person."

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