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Flu reported widespread in Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. -- If you're not starting off 2017 sick with the flu, odds are someone in your family, circle of friends, or job isn't feeling well today.

Virginia is one of eight states where flu activity was deemed "widespread" by the Centers for Disease Control.

"Symptoms of flu include a high fever, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, extreme tiredness, muscle aches and shortness of breath," Patient First spokesperson Taylor Robertson said. "Flu is contracted by inhaling respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. You can also become infected by touching an object contaminated by the flu virus (possibly from a hand that covered a sneeze) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes."

Here are eight things you can do to help prevent you from getting or spreading the flu:

Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing, and wiping or blowing your nose.

Use paper tissues when wiping or blowing your nose and throw them away after use.

Cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow instead of into your bare hand.

Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes as germs enter the body through these openings.

Stay home if you have flu symptoms until you are fever-free without fever medicine for 24 hours.

Avoid close contact with sick people.

Stay away from crowds, if possible.

Get a flu shot.