Flu is now widespread in 46 states, including New York

NEW YORK — Accept it or not, the sounds of coughing and sneezing has become the unofficial soundtrack of the season.

The current flu season, according to experts, is shaping up to be one of the most aggressive on record and emergency rooms across the country are overwhelmed. Some states are reporting a shortage of the anti-viral medication Tamiflu.

Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the flu is now widespread in 46 states with 48,000 confirmed cases.

New York state saw a 66 percent jump in cases in the last week of December, bringing the total to nearly 3,000. New Jersey remains just one of four states where cases haven’t surged.

Meanwhile in California, where the death toll related to the flu just hit 27, health officials are encouraging people to ride out the symptoms.

Health care professionals say the best way to combat the flu is getting a flu shot. The second way, and probably the easiest, is to wash your hands.

“People can spread the flu virus and be contagious before they even have symptoms,” Dr. Ellen Meltzer, an internist at Weill Cornell Medicine & New York Presbyterian told PIX11 News.

According to Meltzer, it’s never too late to get the flu shot.

With an average effectiveness rate of 30 to 40 percent, the vaccination can minimize the duration of the flu for those who do contract it.

“It’s also very important to stay home if you’re not feeling well,” she said. “Getting rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking care of yourself is a priority.”

Flu season typically peaks between December and March, though activity can persist through May, according to the CDC.

A map of flu activity in the U.S., captured on Jan. 9, 2018 (CDC)