ORLANDO, Fla. – The holiday season often coincides with an increase in flu cases, and doctors predict an early surge this year.
“Currently, Centra Care in Central Florida is seeing about 300 cases a week of influenza,” said Dr. Emeline Ramos, a pediatrician with Centra Care Kids.
Nationally, Florida is considered to have low flu activity. However, surrounding states including Texas and Alabama saw high flu activity by December. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the last flu season with high numbers in December was in 2003.
“It’s just a matter of time before we get hit, so we need people to be ready for what could come in terms of the flu season and flu symptoms,” Ramos said.
Ramos said the most common strain this year is Influenza B, with symptoms like headache, body aches, high fever and vomiting. It’s important to note that the strain and symptoms most commonly seen can change as the season continues.
“It all depends on your immune system (and) how your body’s going to handle it,” Ramos said.
Ramos said it’s too early in the season to predict how effective this year’s flu vaccine will be for patients. In years past, the flu shot has been about 30-40% effective. Still, Ramos said the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from getting the virus.
“We still know that it protects us and it helps us fight against complications such as pneumonia, which is where children and the elderly get into trouble,” Ramos said.