Flu Season Strikes Early and Hard - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Flu Season Strikes Early and Hard

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Flu season has begun early and with a vengeance, particularly in the southeastern US. But doctors say there's still time to protect yourself and your family.

Doctor's office waiting rooms are filling up with coughing, sneezing, feverish, achy patients... Flu season has arrived - a month earlier than usual.

"It's earlier this year, and it's more severe. This is going to be a tough flu season for us."

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports this is the earliest start to flu activity we've seen since the severe 2003-2004 season.

Doctors are also seeing the same subtype of flu, an H3N2 strain, that was predominant a decade ago.

One difference from the 2003 season is that researchers think this year's flu vaccine is a close match to the viral strains that are circulating.

And doctors insist the vaccine, in shot or mist form, continues to be your best protection against the flu. They say now's the time to make time to get it.

"If you catch the flu, you will be down for the count for at least a week."

Hardest hit states so far are located in the southeast: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.

Other ways to protect yourself and prevent spreading illness is to cover your cough, wash your hands frequently, and stay home when you're sick.

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