(WFLA) - A deadly strain of the flu is infecting people across the nation and right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Patients are calling in sick with the dreaded virus.
Walk-in clinics and hospitals are busy treating flu victims.
They're coming in with headaches, high fever, body aches and this year, a bad cough.
With the flu taking hold in Florida, it's likely you've got it, had it or at least know somebody who has.
"You can tell, people have flu face. When they come in, I know that they have the flu. They look miserable," said Dr. Trey Mainor with AFC Urgent Care in Pinellas Park.
Doctors are busy seeing flu patients and the bug is here earlier and stronger than before.
"So far, it's been one of the worst that we've seen in the past two to three years," said Dr. Mainor.
Forty-six states, including Florida, are seeing widespread cases of the flu. There have been 41,000 cases so far, nearly three times more than last season.
Your best defense? What your mamma told you.
"The main way to prevent the flu is good hand washing. But, what we really need to do is make sure that everybody is vaccinated," said Dr. Allison Polender from Florida Hospital in Tampa.
Most of us suffer through five to seven days, but the flu bug can be especially dangerous to pregnant women.
"We have patients every year who go to the emergency room and then even go to the ICU because of flu complications during pregnancy," said Dr. Polender.
A potential cause of all this sickness could be the weather.
"Any time of the year in Florida, when it starts getting cold up north, everyone's coming this way. They bring the flu with 'em," said Dr. Mainor.
You may have heard about the ineffectiveness of this year's vaccine.
Doctors still recommend getting one, because it could protect you against other strains of the flu going around now.The Centers for Disease Control says these good health habits can help stop flu germs1. Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.2. Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.3. Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.4. Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.6. Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
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