Flu season starts early - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Flu season starts early

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(KFVS) -

Flu season is already here. The Centers for Disease Control is reporting it's off to its earliest start in nearly a decade.

According to the CDC, officials report higher than normal flu cases in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

One doctor says the flu usually kicks in around four to six weeks from now, so seeing it this early could predict not only a longer, but a more severe flu season.

"Some people think that it has to be cold out to have an influenza outbreak. And with it being unseasonably warm right now, and so a lot of people think that the flu is not going to be coming around," said Erica Kaufman, a Infectious Disease Physician at the Center for Medical Arts.

But doctors warn, it's not true.

Another misconception, it takes almost two weeks for the vaccine to kick in.

And take note, you can spread the virus to your family without even knowing you have it.

"The virus is transmittable a few days before you even start to have symptoms," said Kaufman.

So what happens when you do contract the disease? Act fast.

"It's very important that you get started on the antiviral medications within the first 24 to 48 hours of symptoms."

Symptoms such as fever, running nose, severe aches, congestion, cough and vomiting.

Every year, the virus changes, but there is some good news for this years vaccine.

"When they put the vaccine together, they make their best guest or estimate to which strains of influenza are going to be the ones that cause the disease and this years it seems that the vaccine is hitting the strains that they are seeing clinically," said Kaufman.

Doctors say the vaccination is your best form of defense against this life-threatening disease.

"Influenza does carry a fairly high mortality rate given that it is a preventable disease with the vaccination so that's something we always want to stress," said Kaufman.

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