Widespread flu outbreak continues to spread

If you feel like everyone around you is sick, you may have good reason. A widespread flu outbreak continues to hammer Alabama and has even led to some deaths across the country. The CDC reports that Alabama is one of 46 states that have reported widespread flu activity.

Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist, said if you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, now is the time.

"You better get it now. It still will be beneficial," Hassoun said. "Because the season might be, especially what it's been in the southern hemisphere, this might be prolonged."

Hassoun added that even if you end up getting the flu, the shot is still beneficial and can reduce symptoms. Doctors recommend that you stay home if you do get the flu. Even if you aren't feeling too bad you could spread the virus to someone who is much more vulnerable.

"The most at risk of the complications usually are the pregnant ladies, immunosuppressed ladies, cancer patients on chemotherapy," Hassoun said.

People with chronic lung diseases like COPD and asthma are also more at risk, as well as children and infants.

"So even though you might have it very mild, if you transmit it to another person, that person might die from it," Hassoun said.

With school back in session, the CDC reports that sick children should stay home, and only return after being fever free for 24 hours.

Hassoun said the flu virus is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets. Coughs and sneezes can put the virus in the air and infect others. He said washing your hands regularly and covering your coughs and sneezes can help keep the flu from spreading.

Local hospitals have also issued a flu alert, and are asking those with flu-like symptoms not to visit patients.