Doctors say flu season is only going to get worse -- here’s why

Central Florida saw more than 850 flu cases last week, doctor says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Take a quick look around and try to count how many nearby people are sniffling or fighting a cough or runny nose right now.

Maybe you’re reading this alone. Chances are, you wouldn’t have to look far before coming across someone fighting an illness.

According to doctors, that number of sick people is only expected to increase in the weeks ahead.

[RELATED: All Floridians urged to get flu vaccine as soon as possible | Common cold, or is it the flu? How to tell the difference]

After what’s already been a season of higher-than-average flu numbers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health experts are preparing for several more weeks of flu activity.

Following the CDC’s report, News 6 morning anchor and health reporter Kirstin O’Connor spoke to Advent Health Centra Care Medical Director Dr. Timothy Hendrix about why this flu season is only expected to get worse.

Below is a Q&A from their interview.

O’Connor: "Are flu numbers going up?”

Dr. Hendrix: “Right now in Central Florida, we’ve seen about 860 cases of flu last week. This same time last year -- for comparison -- we were about 350 this same time last year for the number of flu cases, so definitely a busier season than last year.”

O’Connor: “Some reports say we’ve hit the peak. Is that true?”

Dr. Hendrix: “We haven’t gotten to the peak. The peak is several weeks ahead of us. What we’re seeing is this ramping up. Every week, we’re seeing more and more cases of the flu. I don’t think we’re at peak at all. The activity is just steadily getting worse.”

O’Connor: “Is this season more difficult to predict?”

Dr. Hendrix: “One thing about flu: It’s unpredictable. We know it happens in the winter time. We know the virus that’s circulating right now is -- one of them is type B flu and the other one is called H1N1. One is a type A, one is a type B. But if you have the flu, it doesn’t make any difference to you. You’re going to have pretty much the same symptoms.”

O’Connor: “Does the shot protect against both strains?”

Dr. Hendrix: “The vaccine that you get, the trivalent or quadrivalent protects against the strains that we’re seeing in the community, so it’s a good match. The flu shot is a good match to what we’re seeing circulating in the community.”

O’Connor: “Can you relapse from the flu? Have doctors seen that happening this year?”

Dr. Hendrix: “With multiple viruses circulating, you could get sick with one and then later in the season get sick with another, so I have seen people get the flu twice in a season. It’s not that they’re relapsing, it’s just a completely separate infection.”

For more tips on how to protect yourself this flu season, go to ClickOrlando.com/Health.

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