CLEVELAND- If you haven’t received your flu shot yet, you may want to make it a priority.
MetroHealth said the Cuyahoga County Board of Health is reporting a rise in flu cases earlier than normal this year. They said it could get worse during or before the holidays.
"The concern, of course, is when you ramp up at this point in the season, everybody comes home for the holidays and it tends to spread during the holidays,” Dr. Charles Emerman said.
Emerman said MetroHealth receives a report every week from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, reporting how much influenza activity is in the area.
In just the past week, the flu alert status has jumped from low level to moderate.
“They follow a number of interesting parameters, they look at emergency room visits, they look at school absenteeism. They also look at what's the flu activity now, compared to four or five year average and we're above that five-year average," Emerman said.
According to the CDC, more than 200,000 people nationwide are sick enough to be hospitalized and almost 36,000 die every year.
Signs of the flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and extreme fatigue. The most susceptible are the very young, the elderly, and patients who have chronic heart and lung disease.
The flu shot changes every year because the virus mutates.
Washing your hands, hand sanitizers and covering your mouth when coughing are always encouraged, but health professionals say the best weapon in this growing battle is to get your flu shot.