Flu cases on the rise in AL - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Flu cases on the rise in AL

Positive influenza specimens. Positive influenza specimens.

The Alabama Department of Public Health gave an update on the flu situation in the state on Friday.

State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson held a news conference in Montgomery at 10 a.m. to provide the latest results from the 2012-2013 flu season.

Doctors and health officials have already called the current flu season a "classic flu epidemic."

Huntsville Hospital officials said ER visits have risen 10 to 15 percent due to the flu alone -- and that was before the flu season began.

So far, the Centers for Disease Control said at least 2,000 hospital visits have been linked with the flu. They also reported 18 deaths among children.

The CDC also reported that the flu has cost businesses up to $10 billion in hospital and outpatient visits among adults.

Health officials consistently remind the public the best way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccine.

Officials said the most common strain of the flu is "Influenza A" which is covered by the flu vaccine.

Flu season is in its peak right now, but doctors say it is not too late to get the vaccine. It takes about two weeks for it to take effect.

"What we're seeing with this flu is it's more infectious. It's a classic presentation and people get just as sick as they typically do but if you are around it and you have not had a flu shot, the likelihood of you getting it is much greater than several years before," said Dr. Tim Howard.

Howard said this flu season is also expected to last longer – possibly staying strong through March.

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