The latest on the flu spike in the US

Dr. Richard Besser brings the latest details on the flu epidemic in the U.S.
2:43 | 02/13/17

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Transcript for The latest on the flu spike in the US
health alert about the flu epidemic. Cases are spiking around the country. Thousands of people are heading to hospitals as the epidemic hits the worst levels of the season and Dr. Richard Besser is here with the latest on that. Doc, how bad is it right now. Yeah, I mean this is probably the peak period. You know, if you take a look at the map. Last week when we talked about this, 15 states were reporting high levels of flu. Now that's up to 23 states plus New York City so thousands of people in the hospital and it's spreading south and northeast, midwest getting slammed. How do I know the difference if I have just a coal and cough or the flu. Yeah, I mean I get this question all the time. Big overlap. Let me show you, if you have a cold the symptoms really involve up here in your upper airway, sneezing, itchiness, runny nose, congestion, maybe a little bit of fever. Okay, and that tells you have a cold. If it coughs cough, body ache, high fever that comes on suddenly those are symptoms it's involving your lungs and it's the flu. But a lot of people it's somewhere in between. If I have the flu, what do I do? I already have it. What do you die? If you're an otherwise healthy person you treat it the same, rest, drink lots of fluid but if you're in the high risk group you need to know. Pregnant woman, young child under 2, the elder DI, people with asthma, they should go and get tested quickly. There is an antiviral drug that can make them feel better but has to be started in the first two day. George is coughing. I don't think George has the flu but what about the cough. After you have the flu there's several reasons you can have a cough that lingers. They're all very important. The first one is your airways stay sensitive so cold air, any irritants, after the flu you're going to be having coughing fits for about a month. The second reason is something called bronchitis so down there in those airways that get inflamed in with the flu. Sometimes the muscles get twitchy like you have asthma and the treatment for bronchitis in that chest cough is an inhaler. Not an antibiotic. But the third reason is the one that we Rory about. Pneumonia. If you're getting better from the flu and get a high fever and a cough, you need to be seen. Get a chest x-ray and make sure it hasn't developed into pneumonia. When the elderly die from the flu it's frequently from that pneumonia. See your doctor. If you have those estimates don't ignore it. Still not too late to get a flu shot. Go ahead. It takes two weeks to kick in but you can get some prevention there and the other thing is, if you've got the flu, don't go to work. Don't send your kids to school because that makes it much, much worse for everybody. I appreciate you, doc. All that flu talk, give me a fist.

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

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