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Flu 'widespread' in Florida earliest in 3 years

Posted at 11:20 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-17 07:47:34-05

The flu has now reached epidemic levels, with it considered widespread in every state but Hawaii, by the CDC.  

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Health officials from Saint Lucie County to Palm Beach County say they have seen a rise in reported cases, including at some schools and nursing homes.

Chantelle Defresne, an emergency physician at Good Samaritan Hospital, says this flu season has been noticeably different.

“It seems like this year, especially the last couple of weeks, we’ve been actually seeing a lot of folks, a lot of sicker folks, we’ve actually been admitting in the hospital actually just from the flu, that are flu positive,” she said. 
 
This is the quickest the flu has reached widespread status in Florida since the 2014-2015 season. 

Officials in Palm Beach County say they’ve seen two schools with a possible increase in reported cases and seven or eight nursing homes they’re investigating for influenza like illness.

In Martin County, they’re on pace for an increase of more than 100 reported cases in the month of January compared to last January.

In Saint Lucie County, hospitals have seen a slight increase in treating the flu so far this season, compared to last.
 
“I would still recommend to get a flu shot. It can’t hurt," Dufresne said about getting one in January. 

Even though the flu shot is less effective this year, which Defresne says is part of the reason the flu is hitting harder this season, the shot still helps.
 
“The flu shot will not give you the flu. You may feel a little bit sick, a little under the weather, but it will definitely not compare to having the full blown flu,” she said. 
 
It’s likely things will get worse before they get better.

“We always start seeing this peak later on when the flu shots have worn off, so kind of February, March is when we see a second peak of people getting the flu,” she said. 
 
The sore throat, achiness, high fever will last about three to five days, but you’re contagious up to a week.

“If you do find that you are spiking a very high fever all of a sudden and don’t feel well, don’t try to be a hero. If you need to call out sick for work because you don’t feel well, gauge how you feel because you don’t want to get everyone else sick,” she said. 

Click here to find where to get a flu shot near you.