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Flu cases are on the rise locally, according to the Newton Medical Center.
The NMC said flu-related cases and hospitalizations began to rise just before Christmas. The Centers for Disease Control said 41 states are reporting widespread influenza.
"If you get sick with the flu, your doctor may want to prescribe an antiviral medication," said Dr. Rob Roeser, NMC medical staff president. "Most people get over the flu without having to take an antiviral medication, but your doctor will help you decide whether you qualify.
"Antibiotics, which are used to fight bacterial infections, are completely ineffective in fighting the flu because influenza is a virus."
Flu symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and some people may experience vomiting or diarrhea, but it is more common in children.
Roeser said the flu is dangerous to people 65 or older, young children and pregnant women. People with asthma, diabetes or chronic lung disease are at a higher risk.
To prevent spreading or catching the flu, the CDC said to: cover your nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing, wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water, keep hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, clean doorknobs, phones and keyboards and to get plenty of sleep, drink fluids and be physically active.