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The Flu: Where Is It? Have You Seen It?

While other parts of the country have been besieged by this season's influenza virus, it hasn't shown up in any great numbers in the East Bay... yet.

This season's version of the flu appears to be late on arrival here in the East Bay.

Despite a national map showing flu activity in the Oakland area as being "intense," medical facilities and school districts aren't reporting any serious outbreaks of the illness.

Do you know anybody who has been infected? Tell us in the comments.

East Bay health officials do say they expect this winter's flu virus, which has caused health emergencies in regions on the East Coast, to get here eventually.

"It seems to be working its way here," said Ben Drew, spokesman for the John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

Medical facilities are making preparations for the unwelcome visitor. One of their chief strategies is urging residents to get a flu shot.

Washington Hospital in Fremont has scheduled two clinics this week for flu shots. They're being held on Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. as well as on Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Cost is $10.

Find your flu shot in Livermore by clicking here. Check out "Shoo the Flu" for free flu shots for students.

The vaccine usually takes about two weeks to become effective, so now is a good time to get vaccinated ahead of the oncoming flu virus.

For the time being, it's a waiting game at medical facilities.

Dr. Steve O'Brien, vice president of medical affairs for Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, said his hospital and clinics have seen a "very heavy amount" of people infected with a cold that contains a harsh cough this winter.

However, he said Alta Bates doctors and nurses have seen very few patients infected with influenza.

It's a similar story at John Muir Medical Center, where Drew said there has been a large number of patients the past few weeks, but most of them have respiratory ailments such as a cold.

Districts such as the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and the Fremont Unified School District are reporting absences at normal levels.

Dr. O'Brien said the typical symptoms for the flu include a high fever between 101 and 103 degrees, severe aches, chills and a cough.

The virus can be transmitted through touch and the air. O'Brien said it's important to minimize your contact with people in crowds. He added washing your hands is one of the best preventive measures.

He advised people who do contract the flu to say home.

"Don't go to work sick and spread it," he said

People with the flu should drink plenty of water. Eat if you can. If you can't, try some chicken broth. Get plenty of rest. If you're achy, take some medication such as Tylenol to reduce the symptoms.

"It won't get rid of the flu, but you'll feel better," O'Brien said.

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