Flu cases climbing quickly in central Florida

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CENTRAL FLORIDA - It may not be flu season yet, but cases of the illness are climbing quickly in central Florida.

Just last week, Centra Care clinics saw 64 cases of flu at their 20 locations, triple the number of cases the same time last year.

"I don't think we've seen this many cases early on," said Dr. Timothy Hendrix, medical director of Centra Care.

It's a big jump from last year's 22 cases, and health officials don't know why the season started early.

Doctors said the challenge is figuring out when the flu season will peak.

"We try to predict how bad it's going to be. It's like trying to predict the hurricane season. It's going to be bad sometime. We just don't know when," Hendrix said.

Resident Jane Fobert already heard that the flu started early, so now she's planning on getting her flu shot early, too.

"I keep hand sanitizer on me all the time,"

Fobert said. "Who wants to get sick this time of the year? It's 90 degrees, you don't want a temperature of a 105."

Doctors say the best defense against that is a flu shot for anyone older than 6 months.

Nearly all the flu cases have been the "A" strain of the virus, which is the most serious form of the flu.

Anyone starting to feel flu-like symptoms should stop by a doctor's office.

Centra Care says 85 percent of the patients it has treated for the flu were adults.