Airborne pathogens are highly contagious.

Flu Cases Elevated Nationwide

CDC announced U.S. reports of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths are elevated.

CDC's most recent FluView report for the 2014-2015 flu season, which covers the week that ended Dec. 20, showed that about half the country is experiencing high levels of flu activity, with reports of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths being elevated. The HHS agency said flu activity is expected to continue for several weeks, especially in parts of the country that have not yet seen significant activity.

CDC recommends that everyone at least 6 months old receive an annual flu vaccination. "There are documented benefits from flu vaccination, including reductions in illnesses, related doctors' visits and missed work or school. Vaccination also prevents flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. While most of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. If you have not been vaccinated yet this season, get your flu vaccine now," it recommends.

Besides being vaccinated, best practices to avoid being infected include taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs and taking antiviral medications to treat flu illness if your doctor prescribes them.

Of the 21,858 specimens tested and reported by collaborating laboratories during the Dec. 14-20 week, 6,152 (28.1 percent) were positive for influenza. Also, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was at the epidemic threshold, according to the agency.

In addition, all 10 CDC regions reported influenza-like illnesses at or above region-specific baseline levels.

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