Flu Outbreak 101

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Emergency Room at Maimonides Medical Center

Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, infectious disease specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and a columnist for The Daily Beast, explains the science behind the flulike epidemic sweeping the country.

Google Flu Trends

This shows the intensity of searches for information about the flu this year compared to years' past. Google has been a reliable indicator of the severity of the outbreak.


Basic Flu Information from CDC

Signs and Symptoms

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills (*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.)
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Muscle or body aches 
  • Headaches Fatigue (very tired) 
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

Vaccine (More Information Here)

Who should be vaccinated?

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this season. It’s especially important for some people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:

  • People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes: People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease. 
  • Pregnant women. 
  • People 65 years and older 
  • People who live with or care for others who are high risk of developing serious complications. This includes: household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

Who should not be vaccinated against seasonal flu?

Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:

  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs. 
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past. 
  • Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group). People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen. 
  • People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS) that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.