NEW YORK (CBS) For the first time, government health officials are releasing real-time information on how many people have had the flu so far this season. With millions of people already ill, experts say disinfecting your home after someone is sick is key.
New data from the CDC shows between 6 and 7 million people have been sick with flu so far this season. Up to half saw a doctor and up to 84,000 have been hospitalized.
"These numbers are a reminder that flu can cause severe illnesses and hospitalizations," said the CDC's Dr. Alicia Fry. "If you haven't been vaccinated yet we still expect several more weeks of flu activity so get your vaccine now."
Flu activity is now widespread in 30 states. While it's too early to know how the rest of the season will shape up, government health officials say flu activity is lower compared to last year's record breaking season.
If you or a loved one has been sick, experts say it's critical to disinfect high touch surfaces in your home so you don't set your family up for re-infection.
"Any of the flu viruses that are common, probably one of the most hearty viruses that we see is the norovirus which can last for weeks on a surface, so you want to be very careful in cleaning sinks, the handles on the refrigerator, doorknobs, counter tops, door handles, cell phones, tablets, game controllers," said Dr. Daniel Allan with the Cleveland Clinic. He says bleach-based cleaners are best because they can kill even the toughest viruses and bacteria. And it's easy to make a solution at home. "The bleach shouldn't be more than six-months old, two-ounces of bleach in about a quart of water, and you want to make it up the day that you use it. If it sits it will become much less effective."
And don't forget the bedding. That needs to be washed in hot water and high heat in the dryer.