By Stephanie Stahl

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Three additional children have died from the flu this season, bringing the total to 19, according to a new report from the CDC. Influenza activity remains “elevated” across the country, with 30 states reporting widespread flu activity. That’s nowhere as bad as what we had this time last year and while the flu will make you miserable, people are being advised to avoid going to the hospital.

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Current CDC estimates show as many as 9.6 million people have now been sick with the flu so far this season, as up to half visited a doctor and up to 114,000 have been hospitalized.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of flu-like illness,” said Dr. Jeremy Thomas.

Doctors are telling otherwise healthy people with the flu-like symptoms, such as fever and body aches, to avoid the emergency room and call a primary care provider or visit an urgent care clinic instead.

“Most healthy patients who have no other significant medical issues are adequate just treating at home with good hydration and over the counter medications,” said Thomas.

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That’s because potential flu patients can expose other critical patients in the hospital and on the flip side if a person doesn’t have the flu, they can pick it up or get another illness in the emergency room.

But, there are symptoms that warrant a trip to the emergency room, even for the typically healthy.

“Vomiting, diarrhea, inability to hold down medications or fluids at home, increasing shortness of breath, low-blood pressure and high heart rate that may be a sign of dehydration,” said Thomas.

Doctors say children under the age of 5, people over 65 and those with underlying health problems should consider an ER visit because they are at a high risk for complications of the flu.

When caught early, there are medications that can reduce the severity and duration of the flu.

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Locally, New Jersey is one of four states with the highest number of flu causes. Pennsylvania has moderate levels and Delaware is minimal.

Stephanie Stahl