Protecting Yourself Against the Flu

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The flu. It's a virus we can't escape from but one we can try and prevent. However, this year, it's going to be a little harder to do that.

Experts say there are 259 more cases of the flu Nebraska has compared to this time last year.

"Each season differs. We don't know when it's going to show up. Since the flu virus changes, you don't know what strain will show up and some are more severe than others," said Tim Timmons, of the Lancaster County Health Department.

Flu activity started nearly three months early this season with the first cases appearing in October. The strains going around are also stronger meaning it takes people longer to recover, especially those in certain groups.

"One is very young, five and younger, and individuals over 50. Both children and adults who have chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma or heart conditions should get vaccinated," said Timmons.

But surprisingly, the flu hasn't affected attendance at Lincoln Public Schools.

"Right now, our numbers are pretty good. We have a couple schools at 5 percent but most are at 1, 2, 3 percent so we're still doing pretty well," said Majorie Theel with LPS Health Services.

Once 10 percent of a school's students stay home sick, LPS notifies the health department.

"We already, all year long, promote hand washing and other measures. Extra cleaning to prevent the spread of germs as well as covering coughs," said Theel.

In the midst of all the germs, there is some good news.

"The fortunate thing this year, the strains circulating, both A and B strains, are for the most part covered by the current vaccine. So we've got a good match this year," said Timmons.

Both LPS and the Health Department say if you have flu, stay home.