Earliest Flu Season in a Decade: 80 Percent of Country Reports Severe Symptoms

Each cough, sneeze or conversation puts more flu virus into already contaminated air.
2:58 | 01/07/13

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Transcript for Earliest Flu Season in a Decade: 80 Percent of Country Reports Severe Symptoms
night about the flu outbreak, stretching across 80% of the country. Today, we learned that here in new york city, more than 500 people are heading into emergency rooms with the flu every day. Nearly 4,000 people every week. And doctors tell us one good measure of how the flu is spreading across the country is the trend search on google. So, look at this. These are the searches for flu symptoms in the past two years. But look at this. A huge spike in searches already this year and it's still rising. Abc's chief medical editor dr. Richard besser spokes us how to navigate through the outbreak all around us. Reporter: The earliest flu season in a decade. With 80% of the country reporting severe flu -- we are seeing that early uptick. Reporter: We're hunting down the flu vie yus. In high flu states, 70% to 80% of the coughs around you right now are from flu. Each cough, sneeze, or conversation puts flu virus into the air and into your lungs. It lands on railings, in the diner -- everyone touches t and pepper shakers. On the atm and on every door you touch. Flu virus can survive two to eight hours on metal or plastic, like here on the bus. I could pick it up on my hand. Hands take it straight to the nose and mouth. Watch this. We recorded a meeting and counted how many times people unconsciously touched their face. Over 25 minutes, the highest number, 44. And there are new tools to track flu. Social media, like that google flu tracker. A facebook app that tries to find which friend gave you the flu. And flu near you, which has 20,000 volunteers who are tracking their symptoms. You see influenza move from the south and california, but there really is nowhere to hide. Reporter: Office hotspot? The elevator. One sneeze can spray flu in droplets up to 20 feet into your lungs, koefting the doors. A simple thing you can do, instead of pushing the button with your finger, just use a knuckle. Advice from the cdc? There's still time to get the flu shot and wash your hands. A lot. So, it is not too late to get the flu shot? Reporter: That's right. While we're seeing a lot of flu, this could go on for a couple more months and you can get that protection. Even if you don't know how effective it is yet, it is effective in some measure. Reporter: That's white. What do you do when you get the flu? Reporter: You have to think about an anti-viral. Tens of thousands of people die in a bad flu season. And we're not taking it serious enough. So, go and check out things like tamiflu. Reporter: Exactly. Dr. Richard besser, thank you so much. And now, we go to

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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