Experts: Flu season arrives early and could be bad


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 4 at 8:00 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS) -- Flu season is making an early entrance and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's shaping up to be a bad one.
The last time flu season started this early was in 2003, and was one of the most lethal flu seasons in 35 years.

At clinics across Kentuckiana, people are still lining up to get flu shots and that's a good thing. Since the flu this year is arriving a month earlier and proving to be more severe.
"It seems to really be going around a lot," said Louisville resident, Donna Valuska.

Valuska didn't get a flu shot this year and is regretting that decision.

I should have, because I feel like I got the flu now," said Valuska.

Typically flu rates rise in early January, but Dr. Akshaya Patel is already seeing cases.

"Symptoms include runny nose, cough, body aches, fever sometimes it can progress into a pneumonia," said Dr. Patel.

Cases are popping up all across the U.S. and it's expanding and getting closer to Kentucky and Indiana, but the vaccine this year could be key in preventing more cases from spreading.

"The flu strains are a little different than they were last year. The good news with that is that the vaccines they have this year are going to cover those flu strains that they are seeing in the states," said  Dr. Patel.

An estimated 112 million Americans have been vaccinated this year. Elderly, pregnant woman, children and health care workers are especially at risk.

Tron Davis of Louisville says he's never gotten a flu shot, but this year may be different.

"Later on I might, I might get it, I might," said Davis.

With a season that's shaping up to be the worst in a decade, it's convincing many to get a flu shot, just in case.

If you haven't gotten a flu shot yet--- it's not too late.  You can get them at your doctor's office or local health clinics through April.

Click here to see a map of where the flu is spreading weekly.