Flu activity reaching high levels in several states

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Flu activity reaching high levels in several states - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on January 9, 2018. (WPVI)

Flu cases are continuing to mount across the country and in the Philadelphia area.

And the outbreak isn't going away anytime soon.

Most states are reporting moderate to high flu activity, but the CDC says the virus hasn't reached epidemic levels just yet.

So in the meantime, prevention is key - washing your hands, getting a flu shot and disinfecting common surfaces.

Maps showing hot spots in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware include the Philadelphia area.

But flu here is not as severe as in southern California. Hospitals there have triage tents in their parking lots due to overflow from the emergency room.

Twenty-seven people under 65 have died there compared to four at this time last season.

Seven-year-old Cisco Galvez was one of them.

"It happened so fast, days. I never expected it," said Cisco's mother, Juanita Valdana.

At first, Cisco's breathing problems seemed to be due to his asthma, but it was myocarditis - inflammation of the heart triggered by flu.

Doctors say it doesn't happen often, however, it shows why the flu has to be taken seriously.

"Most people think of the flu as a cold, and I'm gonna get over it; hopefully, people get over it, but not everyone does," said Dr. Adrian Cotton.

So if you have severe flu symptoms, call your doctor or go to the ER. If you can, wear a mask to cover your mouth.

There are also other viruses going around causing minor symptoms such as a runny nose or coughing.

For adults looking for the right medication, first, make sure it's safe and that it doesn't interact with any other drugs you're taking.

Then, look for medicine for a cold, not for allergies. Both have antihistamines, but cold medications have the type that helps dry up a runny nose, which can also help relieve coughing.

Not for bronchitis, but a dry cough can be treated with a DM cough product. And if you're coughing up mucus, look for Guaifenesin.

For a stuffy nose, look for medicine with Pseudoephedrine. You'll need to show photo ID to buy it, but it works better than other products.

As for herbal remedies, some help shorten the duration of a cold but don't expect too much.

Kids, pregnant women or anyone with these ailments should use extra caution.

It's best to talk with your pharmacist or health care provider about what's best for you.

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