Central Florida sees increase in flu cases earlier than normal



ORLANDO, Fla. - The flu season normally peaks in mid-February or March, but hundreds of flu patients are jamming local hospitals right now, Channel 9’s Steve Barrett has learned.

Brevard County is one of the worst in the state in terms of the numbers of flu cases, and three nursing homes have already reported significant outbreaks.

Dr. Heider Heshmati, Brevard’s health department director, 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.

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 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,” said Heshmati.

And doctors said this year's flu vaccine is very effective.

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Florida is one of 29 states now reporting high numbers of flu cases.