By Jim Grawe and The Associated Press
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:54 PM CST, January 7, 2013
"The body aches and the cough were horrendous!" Danny Embrey says as he brings in a prescription to Barney's Deep Discount Drugs. "I've still got a little bit of a cough I can't kick after five days."
Embrey says fortunately nobody in his family had to be hospitalized, but nationwide thousands have been because of the flu.
Pharmacist George Saghbene says Kansans need to be concerned.
"I've been hearing that the hospitals are all pretty much running full," Saghbene says.
Because most people tough it out without going to a doctor, the government can't track the total number of flu cases. But by monitoring web searches, Google rates the flu activity in Wichita and Kansas as intense.
"The strain of flu virus is really strong, and it's making people very sick," Saghbene says. "You start feeling like you've been hit by a Mack truck basically."
Once you do get sick, there are all sorts of things you can take to try to alleviate your misery. However, experts continue to insist the best thing you can do is get a flu shot, and they say there is still time to do it. Although, it takes two to three weeks for it to start protecting you. So, Saghbene says the time is now.
"You got your armies ready to fight, where if you don't get the flu shot your army is taking a nap and they come in and invade," Saghbene says.
Health officials say this flu season is shaping up to be one of the more severe in recent years.
Earlier reports indicated that this could be a bad flu season, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the data now confirm it. In the last week of December flu was widespread in 41 states; flu-related child and infant deaths climbed to 18 and outpatient visits for flu symptoms had jumped to 5.6 percent.
The CDC's Tom Skinner says "people who come down with the flu can be pretty sick," with severe muscle aches and high-grade fever lasting 4 or 5 days.
Skinner says for "certain groups of people -- mainly children, the elderly, people with underlying health conditions -- it can be life-threatening."
He says the vaccine is well-matched to this year's flu strains, but isn't 100 percent effective. It does reduce the severity of the illness for those who do get it, though -- so it's still worth a shot.
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