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Flu arrives in Hillsborough

TAMPA — Flu has arrived in west-central Florida, state health officials said Wednesday.

Hillsborough, Manatee and Polk counties are among 12 in the state reporting "sporadic flu activity," the lowest of four levels that health officials track.

Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando aren't reporting any cases of influenza.

Florida is among seven states in the nation reporting sporadic activity.

The level of flu is about normal for this time of year, said Janet Hamilton, surveillance administrator for communicable diseases for the state Health Department.

"Now is a great time to get your flu shot," she said. "Wash your hands and cover your cough."

Each year, about 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized because of complications from the flu, and about 36,000 die.

Older people, young children and people with certain health conditions are most at risk.

Symptoms of flu include fever, sore throat and extreme tiredness.

Complications can include pneumonia, sinus and ear infections and worsening of such conditions as heart failure, asthma and diabetes.

Federal officials say anyone can get vaccinated.

But they recommend vaccination for high-risk groups: children from ages 6 months to 19 years, people over 50, pregnant women, nursing home residents, health care workers, people who live with those at high risk and people who live with or are caregivers for children under 6 months old.

These babies are at high risk for complications, but are too young to be vaccinated.

>>Fast facts

Flu shots

If you're looking for a flu shot, the American Lung Association has a site to help you, www.flucliniclocator.org

Many people can be vaccinated with a nasal spray instead of a shot.

Flu arrives in Hillsborough 10/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 16, 2008 12:09am]

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