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Flu cases on the rise in St. Joseph County

Flu cases across the country are spiking right now. The CDC says Indiana has seen a high level of the virus in the last few weeks, and health officials say it's not too late to get a flu shot.

The CDC has reported more than 31,000 cases of the influenza virus this season.

Dr. Brian Carter at Granger Family Medicine says during the start of the flu season they only saw a few cases, about one or two every week, but now that number has more than doubled. He says there's been an explosion of influenza.

"There's a lot. Almost everyone that we're testing is coming back with influenza," said Carter.

He says the flu can hit suddenly anytime between winter and spring. Carter says it seemed like it was going to be a mild season, but now that's not the case.

"I'm probably seeing four to five cases per day in the office. I would say each provider has seen the same amount," said Carter.

Some of the symptoms to look for include fever, cough, sore throat, a runny nose, headaches, body aches, and fatigue, but don't confuse the flu with other illnesses.

"There's a common misconception that if I have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea I have the flu, but that's not the case, that's the stomach flu, it's a different virus. Influenza I want you to think of a cold but with much more severe symptoms," said Carter.

Dr. Carter says he has seen a few cases of people who have been vaccinated for the flu but still test positive. However, the symptoms are usually less severe.

He says the shot, staying home, and washing your hands are some of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus, because in some situations it can be fatal.

Those with compromised immune systems, young children, and the elderly are most at risk.

"One of the problems with the flu is that it can lead to secondary infections -- most commonly bronchitis and pneumonia. It's usually those secondary infections that are going to get you," said Dr. Carter.

After getting the shot it typically takes about two weeks before you are immune to the virus. And even though we're in the middle of the season, doctors say you should still get it the shot.

They say if you do have the flu it's also recommended that family members get treatment as well.

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