Flu season in full-swing

Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 24, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting pockets of high flu cases, including some in the Tampa Bay area. 

"Sudden fever, sudden cough, body aches, chills," said Nancy Epps, a nurse clinician at Tampa General Hospital, referring to flu symptoms we all want to avoid.


But some medical experts in the bay area are seeing more with this year's delayed flu season. 


"In previous years it has been earlier in the season, from October to December, we have seen an uptake in flu cases especially over the past two weeks," Epps said. 


That's at Tampa General Hospital, where health care professionals have seen 110 flu cases since the beginning of the year.


Officials at All Children's Hospital said last week they saw the highest number of cases so far this season.


Representatives at Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg said they expect the number of flu cases to increase in the next few weeks. 


"You can say yes, we're seeing a lot of uptake in flu cases, but we're not even halfway to as many cases as we were last year," Epps said. 


This year, the CDC testing also showed the H1N1 strain we saw in 2009 is back, but this time health care providers are better prepared.


"This year it seems like all of a sudden it's hitting hard again, so people that have had the vaccine, it is a good match," Epps said. "It's the same strain that we were protected against in the vaccine." 


The increased flu reports are no surprise. Health care professionals have been waiting for it to hit. More populated areas have more cases.


"It's hard to predict how high up our peak is going to go and when it's going to taper off, or are we hitting the peak now and it's going to taper off in the next week," Epps said. 


It's not too late to get a flu shot, but once you do, it will take two weeks to ward off any inflictions.


Doctors recommend you stay home if you have flu symptoms. Also, wash your hands often and cough or sneeze into your sleeve or arm, not your hands.