Dec 5, 2012 9:51 AM by Marissa Torres
The Center for Disease Control has an important health warning about this year's flu season. It's off to an early start, and doctors are concerned.
Already, suspected flu cases have jumped in five southern states: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. That's one of the earliest starts in 10 years, and the strain that is circulating is one that tends to make people quite sick, especially the elderly.
Flu symptoms typically include a fever, severe headaches, runny nose, congestion, a cough, and even vomiting.
Children and the elderly are at particular risk of dehydration.
Already in North Carolina, two people have died.
"If you catch the flu, you will be down for the count for at least a week. That means kids can't go to day care, they can't go to school, you probably can't go to work," says Dr. Ryan Shelton with Carolinas Healthcare System.
The flu virus spreads more easily in the winter when the air is drier. The good news is that more than one third of the population has already been vaccinated, that's 112 million people.
And there's plenty of vaccine left, which appears to be a good match for this strain of flu.
Important to note, it normally takes two weeks after you've received the vaccine for the immunity to kick in.