Significant increases in flu activity in the United States have occurred in the last couple weeks and this week 25 states are reporting widespread flu activity while another 20 are reporting regional activity, indicating that flu season is definitely here.

According to CDC’s influenza surveillance report published on January 3, all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have reported cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza and, nationally, the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza continues to rise, up from 13.3 percent in the week ending December 14, 2013, to this week’s 26.7 percent. (Regional percentages this week range from 11 percent to nearly 35 percent.)

Influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity, or the percentage of patients that visited doctors for flu-like symptoms, is also on the rise. Nationally, the United States reached the baseline level for ILI during the week ending December 7, 2013, and this weeks states are reporting high ILI activity.

These increases, together with other indicators of influenza activity, are a good sign that flu season is well under way. According to FluView, flu activity to date has been most intense in the south-central and southeast of the country, although now activity is increasing across the rest of the country as well. Most of the viruses characterized so far this season have been 2009 H1N1 viruses (‘pH1N1’ viruses), which have circulated worldwide as seasonal flu viruses since the influenza pandemic in 2009. While it’s not possible to predict which influenza viruses will predominate for the entire 2013-2014 influenza season, if pH1N1 virus continues to circulate widely, illness that disproportionately affects young and middle-aged adults may occur this season.

To help custodial departments keep the flu at bay, the CDC offers seven cleaning tips:
1. Know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing
2. Clean and disinfect surfaces and object that are touched often
3. Simply do routine cleaning and disinfecting
4. Clean and disinfect correctly
5. Use products safety
6. Handle waste properly
7. Do your research

For specifics on each of these tips, click here for CDC recommendations.