SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Flu activity in the United States remains low overall, but it is increasing. In California, the flu activity level is considered minimal, with several counties in the Bay Area and Southern California reporting elevated activity.

The data used to generate the most recent report is from November 25-December 1 (week 48).

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During that week in California, five people died from the flu. So far this season 16 people have died from flu-related illnesses. None of those deaths occurred in children under 18.

During week 48, 185 patients tested positive for the flu, which is slightly above expected levels for this time of year. Of those, 183 tested positive for Influenza A. Overall, 544 Californians have tested positive for the flu, with 519 of those cases being Influenza A.

The Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health encourage everyone six months and older to get a flu shot.

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How do you know if you have the flu or a cold? Sutter Health explained with this graphic:

According to Sutter Health: “Influenza is a contagious illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs, sometimes in similar ways to a common cold. However, the flu can also cause severe illness and even lead to death – especially in babies, elderly and sick people. The flu is much more dangerous than a cold.”

If you believe you have the flu, you are advised to see a doctor immediately to get antiviral medication. That medicine can lessen the severity of the symptoms, especially if you start taking it within two days of noticing symptoms.

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Children should see a Pediatrician immediately if they:

  • Can’t or won’t drink enough fluids
  • Stops urinating or doesn’t make tears while crying
  • Vomits repeatedly
  • Cries for a long period of time and can’t be comforted
  • Has flu-like symptoms that initially improve and then get worse
  • Has asthma or respiratory problems, diabetes, heart/kidney disease, a weakened immune system