by Lauren Matter, KSPR News
4:26 PM CST, December 27, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- We are getting closer to a new year which means the actual flu season is right around the corner.
The peak of flu season is January or February. But this year, the illness has made an earlier appearance -. One that is spreading fast and making many sick. Health officials in Greene County say the number of confirmed flu cases they have are the numbers they usually see in mid to late February.
In just two weeks, the number of confirmed influenza cases in Greene County jumped 80-percent. And just last week in Marshfield, the school district almost canceled class due to the number of kids out sick with the flu.
300 kids were out sick, dropping the enrollment numbers down 10-percent.
The flu is passed very easily person to person in crowded areas, such as schools. But even though school won't be back in session for another week or so, health officials in the Ozarks Community Hospital say the hustle and bustle of this time of year means one thing. If you feel sick, stay at home because the flu doesn't play favorites, if you're around it, you will most likely get sick.
"Some don't even know they have it when they spread it," said Annie Lee of Ozarks Community Hospital. "so avoid those bigger things if you can. If you are elderly or you feel like you immune system might be compromised and you're going to not handle the flu well, you should be there."
Doctors say the best way to avoid to flu is stay at home if you feel sick or if someone you know is sick, don't be around them.
-Drink plenty of fluids.
-Get 8 hours of sleep
-Get a flu shot.
-Always wash your hands.
Here are the symptoms to look out for: fever, chills, coughing or sneezing, nasal drainage and body aches.
Health officials get new numbers every week -- but that only reflects those who have sought medical help. That being said, the real number of flu cases is likely much higher. If you do start feeling the symptoms, go to the doctor. If they confirm it is the flu within 48 hours of the first symptoms, they can give you medicine. If it's after that time frame, you'll have to rest up and drink lots of fluids until you're flu free.
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