Central Florida sees increase in flu cases



ORLANDO, Fla. - WFTV has learned Urgent Care clinics in central Florida are seeing flu patients in record numbers, and the problem is only getting worse.

The highly contagious disease has sent more than 1,000 patients to CentraCare clinics in the past two weeks, officials said.

Dr. Timothy Hendricks told WFTV his staff saw a record number of patients with the flu during the week of Christmas. A total of 637 people sought treatment, which is up 41 percent from the week before when Hendricks' staff saw about 450 flu cases.

So far this week, Hendricks said he's seen a few hundred more cases, putting the first week of 2013 on track to beat that brand-new record.

"I run a small landscaping company. I've had two guys out for a week, and it keeps spreading like wildfire," said Orlando resident Nathan Bassett.

Hendricks tells his patients who have the flu to wear masks to prevent spreading it, but he said the best idea is to prevent the disease altogether with a shot.

Other ways to stay healthy, according to Hendricks, are to wash your hands and stay home if you're sick.

Those who have the flu and have not been vaccinated should see a doctor right away for a prescription that can shorten flu symptoms, Hendricks said.