It is tiny. It is sneaky. And this year, the flu virus has hit 49 of 50 United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s FluView Report.

This time around, Texas is not the exception to the rule. It is Hawaii. So far, the 50th state has not reported flu cases while incidents of the disease are up sharply throughout the rest of the country for the third straight week, noted the report, which is updated weekly.

According to the CDC, a cumulative rate of 41.9 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported with 37 child deaths across the nation reported.

“This flu season (in Calhoun County) is worse than the last several years both in number of cases of flu and severity of illness,” stated Dr. Leigh Ann Falcon with Port Lavaca Clinic Associates.

Common symptoms include fever, body aches and cough.

“For many, it is a self-limiting illness but for others it can cause more severe damage and infect the heart, lungs or even brain causing major organ dysfunction or death,” stated Dr. Falcon.

PROTECTION

“The best protection is a flu vaccine and good hand washing,” recommended Dr. Falcon. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or a alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is not available. In addition, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that might be germ infected.

Because there is likely to be more weeks of flu activity during the season, the CDC notes that the vaccinations still can offer important protection.

“While influenza A(H3N2) viruses have been most common to date, it is not unusual for different flu viruses to circulate at different times of the season and most flu vaccines protect against four different influenza viruses,” according to the CDC’s FluView report.

The vaccination is used to prevent flu illness and protects against three or four different flu viruses, noted the CDC report.

“It takes two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond and for those antibodies to provide protection,” the reported stated.

In addition, Dr. Falcon noted that avoiding crowds as much as possible and use of hand sanitizer are helpful in preventing the flu.

Also, avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth as this is a means to spread the disease and cover mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze, noted the CDC.

GOT THE SYMPTOMS?

Should you be unlucky enough to come down with the flu, visit the doctor and take the prescribed antiviral drugs to more quickly combat the symptoms.

High-risk people are recommended to see their doctor at the first signs of symptoms, even if vaccinated. While everyone is at risk of getting the flu, those most at risk include children under 5 years old, people 65 and older, pregnant or postpartum women and residents of nursing homes and other long-term car facilities. Also considered at high risk if the flu is contracted are people with asthma; people with neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions such as brain disorders, peripheral nerves and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy and such; those with chronic lung disease; heart disease; people with a Body Mass Index of 40 or greater; and such. For a full list, visit the CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov.