JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's prime-time flu season and despite some recent upticks in the number of flu cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of flu cases in Florida is down compared to this time last year.
Still, the flu can be deadly and should be taken seriously. Sixteen children have died from influenza in the U.S. and we are halfway through the height of the flu season.
According to the Florida Department of Health, there was an uptick in the number of flu cases reported in the first week of this year, but overall the numbers are down from the last flu season.
The exception was an increase of flu cases reported in the Panhandle area and among seniors across the state.
In Georgia, records show there was a surge in the number of reported flu cases in the final week of last year. Experts say the best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu vaccine.
Chances are you probably know someone who is sick, but doctors and pharmacists say vaccines can be given even to those who already feel sick or are coughing.
"You should get the flu shot and you should also see the doctor because they can give you preventative therapy if someone in your immediate household has the flu," pharmacist Jamaeka Hairston said.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between the common cold and the flu based on symptoms alone. Both are respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.
The CDC says symptoms of the flu can include:
- Sore throat
- Runny/Stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
Symptoms of the common cold can include some or all of the above, but are milder and do not worsen with time. Experts suggest anyone who has those symptoms should see a doctor if the symptoms get worse.
Other ways to avoid getting a cold or the flu include washing your hands often and avoid touching your face.