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Fighting flu through social media

Updated: Tuesday, January 15 2013, 11:54 AM EST

(ABC News) -- The flu season has arrived — and it’s weeks early.

In one week, 16 states and New York City reported high levels of the flu. By the following week, that number was up to 29.

Each day for the past week, more than 500 New Yorkers have descended on emergency rooms with flu symptoms, according to a city website.

According to the Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention, in high
flu states  70 percent to 80 percent of the coughs you hear around you
right now stem from the flu.

Each cough, sneeze or even conversation puts the virus into the air — and potentially into your lungs.

The virus goes everywhere — onto railings and the salt shakers in the
diner; on the keys of the ATM; and on every door anyone touches.

The flu virus can survive two to eight hours on hard surfaces such as
 metal and plastic — touch it and you can spread it to your nose and
mouth from your hand.

The average person touches his or her  face about 18 times an hour — giving the virus a path to the lungs.

In one meeting, ABC News recorded the number of times people
unconsciously touched their faces in more than 25 minutes. The highest
number of times: 44.

There are now new tools to track the flu.

The CDC is watching social media flu sites such as Google Flu
Tracker, and a Facebook app tries to identify the “friend” that gave you
the flu from its searches and comments. has 20,000 volunteers who are tracking their symptoms, narrowing the spread of flu down to your ZIP code.

An office hot spot?  The elevator. One sneeze can spray the flu — in
droplets — up to 20 feet, coating the doors and buttons.  And what do
you touch in an elevator?  The buttons.

The CDC suggests washing your hands and getting a  flu shot — still available and effective within two weeks.

Fighting flu through social media

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Flu Signs and Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:


Flu Symptoms (more intense than common cold):

  • Fever 
  • Body aches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry cough are more common and intense
  • Chills
  • HeadachesCommon

Cold Symptoms:  
  • Stuffy/runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever is rare
  • Slight body aches
  • Mild fatigue

Source: Centers for Disease Control

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