HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Though it hasn't yet reached pandemic level, this flu season is in full-swing, causing serious illness and even death.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the 2017 flu season got off to a slow start in October, but the number of cases has soared in recent weeks.
"I think we're in for a really bad winter and a really heavy flu season," said Dr. Jatinder Sachdev of American Family Care.
"I've been seeing cases as early as September, and it's increasing every day."
North Alabama has been particularly hard hit, with significant Influenza activity in Limestone, Morgan and Madison Counties.
Doctors in Huntsville at American Family Care are seeing 8-10 cases every day.
Fever, sore throat, body aches and cough are all signs of the flu that are often confused with the common cold.
With the flu, time isn't on your side.
"A lot of times the virus will spread more rapidly now than in other times of the year," Dr. Sachdev said.
She added, "Within 48 hours you should come in if you're starting to have symptoms and they're not going away or you're feeling worse every day, I think it's a good idea to come in."
Protecting yourself from this potentially deadly virus is surprisingly simple.
"Good hand washing and sanitizing after you touch an area that may be contaminated. If you're sick just stay home and get treated before you go back out. Covering your mouth when you're coughing or sneezing. And also avoiding crowded areas and close contact with somebody who is sick."
And doctors will tell you it's never too late to get the flu shot—and they say not to believe the myths.
"You will not get the flu from the vaccine. That's another myth that we are going to stop," said Dr. Sachdev.
Doctors recommend the flu shot over the mist to increase effectiveness.
Getting vaccinated is most important for the young, elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
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