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A Bad Flu Season

THE BEST DEFENSE Doctors say the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent infection by the flu virus. CARL D. WALSH—PORTLAND PRESS HERALD/GETTY IMAGES

Flu season in the United States runs from October through March. And this year’s flu is especially bad, 
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We are currently in the midst of a very active flu season, with . . . the country experiencing widespread and intense activity,” says CDC 
director Brenda Fitzgerald.

CDC data shows extensive flu activity in every state but Hawaii. “There’s a lot of flu in a lot of places,” says Dan Jernigan. He is the director of the CDC’s influenza influenza KIDSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES a contagious viral infection that is commonly known as the flu (noun) Half the class was out sick with influenza. division.

The flu is contagious contagious BLEND IMAGES—KIDSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES able to be passed from one person or animal to another (adjective) My sister can't come to school because her flu is still contagious. . It is caused by the influenza virus virus INDEED/GETTY IMAGES a small particle that causes disease (noun) The stomach virus is going around at school. . It is often mistaken for the common cold. But unlike a cold, the flu can strike suddenly. It can cause mild to severe symptoms. These include fever, chills, and fatigue, or tiredness. Cough and headache are also common.

Most people with the flu get better in a less than two weeks. But the flu can be dangerous for young children and the elderly. Doctors can prescribe medication to treat the illness.

You can reduce your risk of getting the flu with frequent hand washing. Cover your mouth when coughing so you don’t spread the illness. If possible, stay home if you are sick.

This year’s flu vaccine vaccine JGI/TOM GRILL/GETTY IMAGES a shot to protect against a disease (noun) He went to the doctor to get a vaccine. is only about 40% effective. Still, a flu shot is the Number 1 way to prevent infection. “While our flu vaccine is far from perfect, it is still the best defense we have,” Fitzgerald says.