Influenza activity is widespread in Florida with some of the hardest hit areas in the Tampa Bay area, according to the state's health department.
Hillsborough and Pasco were among the counties with the highest flu reports for the week ending Dec. 29, 2012. Still, their flu levels were considered "moderate." Other counties including Sarasota, Manatee and Pinellas were labeled as "mild" for flu activity last week.
In Hillsborough County, symptoms are showing up earlier this year, said county health department spokesman Steve Huard.
"In this area, we usually see flu-like activity and influenza-like activity coming up later in the year, more into February and March," Huard said. "And this time we're seeing quite a bit of it earlier on in the year."
Health officials are encouraging residents to get flu shots early on in the season.
"They are the most effective form of prevention for keeping the flu out of your system bar none, and that's any year," he said.
Flu season runs from October through May.
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