Central Fla. flu outbreak sends flood of patients to hospital

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —

A flu outbreak across Central Florida continues to send a flood of patients to local emergency rooms and clinics.

The situation is so bad in Brevard County that the health department said it will declare a countywide flu advisory later Thursday.

The advisory is designed to make sure people do what they can to avoid getting sick, such as getting a flu shot.

Sandra Vrolijt was getting her flu shot at the Brevard County Health Department after hearing plenty about the flu epidemic sweeping the country.

Brevard County is one of the worst in the state in terms of the numbers of flu cases, officials said.

Three nursing homes have reported significant outbreaks.

Brevard County's health department director Dr. Heidar Heshmati said this year is different in more ways than one.

"Two things are happening right now. It started early and we have increased number of activities at the present time," Heshmati said.

Officials said the increase in cases is running nearly two months ahead of recent year's flu season peak, and almost every county in the area is now in the moderate outbreak category.

Only Volusia and Flagler counties remain mild in terms of flu cases.

"If you see someone is sick, coughing, sneezing, especially if you have a health condition, avoid that person," Heshmati said.

Heshmati said there is no way to tell when the flu season will peak this year, but he said there is more than enough vaccine available for anyone who wants a flu shot.

The Center for Disease Control said Florida is one of 29 states reporting high numbers of flu cases.