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flu-outbreak-widensThe flu has hit 41 states already, which is over a month earlier than usual. Here is what you need to know.

Boston has been hit especially hard with the flu this year; 700 cases since the beginning of October (compared to 70 last year), and the mayor has declared a state of emergency. Eighteen people in Massachusetts have died from the flu, four from Boston.

Scientists discovered recently that the flu vaccine this year does not protect against the Influenza B strain. Still, the vaccine is your best defense, according to the medical community. The actual flu that is spreading is called H3N2, and the vaccine responds well to that strain. Medical experts add that it is not too late get your flu shot.

Tips to Avoid the Flu Outbreak

  • As much as you love your friends and co-workers, stay away from them if they are ill. We all know the flu spreads through sneezing, coughing and breath and nasal droplets. Stay at least 10 feet away from the sneezers and coughers.
  • Wipe down cell phones and keyboards regularly. Wipe down your grocery cart before you shop. Many stores have antibacterial wipes. If they don't, you shouldn't be going there.
  • Wash your hands regularly. And make sure your children are doing it too. Use soap with a sanitizer that is alcohol-based.
  • Get lots of sleep! A Carnegie Mellon University study showed that people who got their 8 hours or more of ZZZZ's were less likely to develop a cold than those who got 7 or less hours, even when their noses were given a live virus.
  • Eat healthy. Cut back on the foods that are fatty and eat more fruits and vegetables, which will boost your immune system. Yellow-orange, orange and dark green fruits and veggies are the best. Eat them as snacks if you are having trouble working more into your diet.

Which States are Hard Hit by the Flu?

Massachusetts - 18 deaths
Pennsylvania - 22 deaths
South Carolina - 22 deaths
Illinois - 6 deaths
Michigan - 4 pediatric deaths
North Dakota - 1,077 cases
The Centers for Disease Control will make a statement regarding the flu epidemic. Those most vulnerable are the elderly, young children and pregnant women or any other person with health complications. But make no mistake. Our healthy children can be at risk too. Even healthy children can die from complications of the flu. We are not trying to scare you, but our goal is to keep you informed and healthy.

If you are unsure if you have a cold or the flu, check out this list of cold vs flu symptoms.

Have you had the flu yet? I know I did! Let us know what you think about the flu shot on Facebook or Tweet us!

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