Record number of flu cases hit Central Florida

Doctors say flu season arrived month earlier than usual

ORLANDO, Fla. - A record number of flu cases were reported last week at Florida Hospital Centra Care facilities.

According to Centra Care, 637 cases were documented, besting the record of 569 cases that occurred during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. The record-breaking numbers showed as the wait at Centra Care in Orlando reached 3 hours on Wednesday.

According to the CDC, Florida is among 31 states reporting widespread flu activity.  According to Dr. Timothy Hendrix, the flu has arrived a month early in Central Florida.

On Friday at Centra Care's Winter Garden facility, Dr. Hendrix said more than three-fourths of 40 patients he saw had symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

"The big difference is they tell me they have a runny nose, cough, and the first thing I ask is if (they) have a fever," said Hendrix. "Automatically, that's how I know. I differentiate it if it's that high fever and miserable feeling that goes along with cough or runny nose."

Hendrix advises people to see their doctor with the onset of the first symptom in order to start medication, such as the Tamiflu, within 24-48 hours of the symptoms.

If you don't, "You're still going to get over it, but you're just going to be miserable for longer," Hendrix said.

Flu season typically lasts through the early months of the year before it typically tapers off with the arrival of spring.

Hendrix also said Central Floridians who have not yet been vaccinated for the flu should do so. He said the most important thing for people with the flu to do is to keep their fever down.

Hendrix also said recovery time is roughly five to seven days and that before returning to work or school, the patient should be fever-free for at least 24-hours.

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