Though influenza activity has remained lower than usual in Kansas this season, activity has been steadily increasing over the last several weeks with the latest weekly influenza surveillance report showing Kansas with “widespread” flu-like illness. For the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify a state as “widespread,” the outbreaks of influenza or increases in influenza-like illness cases and recent laboratory-confirmed influenza are in at least half the regions of the state with recent laboratory evidence of influenza in that state. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment identified the first laboratory-confirmed influenza cases of the 2011-2012 flu season on Dec. 21. Symptoms of influenza include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration; influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions. Influenza vaccination is effective for reducing the chances of getting sick and spreading influenza to others. Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick. All persons six months and older are recommended to receive an annual influenza vaccine.