CDC back at work tracking the flu after shutdown

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

The influenza virus looks kind of freaky to be honest.

The group known as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is responsible for keeping track of many health issues in the US, and one of their jobs is to report the number of influenza (“flu”) cases every week.

Sadly, the CDC hasn’t been able to do so since the government shutdown, as many of their workers were sent home while Congress pulled itself together. There’s quite a lot of catching up to do now that the government is back, but fortunately CNN helped track flu results during the downtime!

So, did the virus spiral out of control during the shutdown? Well, the flu season did begin near the end of September for several states, but the numbers aren’t scary at all. Phew! For example, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and West Virginia didn’t have any flu activity to report. Meanwhile, “Tennessee is not seeing signs of notable influenza activity,” says the director of Tennessee’s Immunization Program, Dr. Kelly Moore. Wow, some flu season, eh?

Well, there are some states that have cases to report, but no exact numbers. For example Iowa doesn’t require healthcare providers to keep track of flu numbers, so they have “sporadic” (random) activity. The same goes for Louisiana and Arizona as well.

That’s not very specific is it? Thank goodness states like Texas and Wyoming have some more reliable numbers, but like I said they’re not scary at all. For example Texas only had 6 positive flu tests reported last week and Wyoming barely had 4.

While the totals aren’t bad, it’s still important to stay prepared for the season. After all, the CDC says, “People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away.” Some basic health habits to keep in mind include staying away from somebody you know is sick and washing your hands after you go to the bathroom. Don’t just sprinkle a couple drops of water and run out of the restroom though! Make sure you apply soap and sing happy birthday twice while scrubbing your hands. Okay, maybe not out loud, but that’s about as long as it takes to really get clean.

Also, if you’re unfortunate enough to catch a case of the sniffles, stay home so you don’t get anyone else sick! If you don’t fancy the idea of lounging around all day while you get better, there might even be a few workouts you can do to heal yourself in no time.

Chris Finley, Vermont’s immunization program manager and nurse practitioner, stated, “Flu activity is low, which means it’s a very good time to get a flu shot because there is still time to be protected before the flu season hits.” Until then, the CDC is back at work now that the government came back from recess, and they’re trying to get a report together by next Friday.

Featured image courtesy of William Rafti on Wikimedia.