The flu virus has shown up in the CSRA early this year. Health officials have confirmed cases on both sides of the river, and they are warning people to get vaccinated before it's too late.
Doctors say that last year's flu season was a moderate one, and because of that, this year could be worse. But there is one thing you can do that will decrease your chances of getting the virus.
Flu shot signs have been popping up all over town, and although it might seem a bit early for the flu, there have already been some cases in Augusta.
"It's not unusual to have a few sporadic cases of flu, but to have 8 or 10, which is what one local hospital had, is a little bit unusual. But we have not had a sustained identification of the flu in the area yet. It would be very early for that," GRU Emergency Medicine Dr. Jim Wilde says.
Wilde says just because some people have come down with the flu, doesn't necessarily mean that flu season has started. He expects that to happen between December and February.
"We've had several years in a row that were not so severe. Generally with flu you get several seasons that are light and then you tend to get one or two seasons that are heavy, so I would expect a fairly heavy season this year," he says.
And because of that, it's the perfect time to get vaccinated.
Each year, the CDC monitors the flu virus, but because of the government shutdown, thousands of CDC employees are being furloughed. That means the CDC will be limited in tracking the virus this year.
If you get the flu, you can treat the symptoms with over the counter medicine, but doctors say the best way to treat the flu is to stay home and get some rest, and to make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
"If you have a high-risk medical condition, and it's early in the course of the illness, the first 48 hours, then yes you should go see your doctor because you may be a candidate for one of the anti-virals like tamiflu," Wilde says.
Most medical plans cover the cost
of a flu shot, but if you don't have insurance, you can get the vaccination at
a pharmacy. Those can cost about $20.
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