The Centers for Disease Control releases a report weekly, detailing the reports of flu throughout the nation. This report was released last week, detailing flu reports as of Sunday, Jan. 8. The report shows sporadic reports in Alabama and most of the South. -- Special photo

Flu season not that busy … yet

Published 7:52pm Monday, January 16, 2012

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, the state was wrapped in a blanket of wintery, cold weather and for some of us, we were inside wrapped up in a blanket, battling the flu.

This year, we have seen unseasonably warm weather, good enough to long for days on the golf course or boating and very few of us have found ourselves battling the sniffles and sneezes of the flu.

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control, only 3.7 percent of tests have turned up positive for the flu this season, compared to 24.2 percent of those tests this time last year.

But, that does not mean the precautions and steps taken to keep the flu at bay should be taken lightly.

For Alabama, the peak of flu season has yet to arrive and the worst of last year’s season lasted through early April, with many areas of the state reporting widespread outbreaks of the virus.

“The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season,” the Centers for Disease Control reports. “Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.”

Locations throughout Selma and the Black Belt continue to offer the flu shot vaccine, giving residents time to fight off what could still turn into an active flu season. This advice is especially true for those the CDC considers “high risk.”

“Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks,” the CDC said. “Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death.”

Below is a partial list or those the CDC considers high risk and those with medical conditions who should get the flu vaccine:

Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2-years-old

Adults 65 years of age or older

Pregnant women

Asthma patients

Those with chronic lung disease

Those with heart disease or blood disorders

Those with kidney disorders and those with liver disorders

As for the 2011-12 flu season and what it will become, even the experts at the CDC are not sure.

“Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways,” the organization said. “Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity and length of the epidemic depends on many factors, including what influenza viruses are spreading and whether they match the viruses in the vaccine.”

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