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Children are dying from the flu: Here's what you should know

The deadly flu epidemic sweeping the nation has closed schools in states from Alabama to Texas and killed at least 84 children since its official start on Oct. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Every state except Hawaii is now reporting widespread flu activity, the CDC said. The outbreak has left parents wondering what they can do to protect their families against the flu and what to do once their child is diagnosed.

The CDC recommends that you "Take 3" Actions to fight the flu

1. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • ​Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu

2. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.CDC recommends rapid antiviral treatment in people who are very sick with flu or people who are at high risk of serious flu complications who develop flu symptoms.For people with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay. Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug. Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

3. Take time to get a flu vaccine.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the most important step in preventing influenza infection. Especially with children and the elderly.

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