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‘Everybody’s catching flu left and right’: Statewide Flu cases on the rise

ORLANDO, Fla. — After gathering with family for the holidays, some health experts warn you might have brought an unwanted guest back home with you.

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The most up-to date Florida Department of Health data shows flu cases were on the uptick well ahead of the holidays, and experts anticipate family gatherings will lead to an increase in cases.

CDC data from weekly Flu Surveillance Reports show seasonal influenza activity is elevated and continues to increase in most parts of the country.

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The nationwide data show a 12.8 percent week-over-week increase in positive clinical lab tests for the week ending December 16th.

Hospitalizations were also trending up nationwide.

One Central Florida pediatrician said so many kids have shown up to her office with flu-like symptoms, that she temporarily ran out of flu tests right before Christmas.

“Our children, staff, friends, family-- Everybody’s catching flu left and right,” said Dr. Salma Elfaki, the owner of Nona Pediatric Center in Lake Nona.

Elfaki said the uptick in patients with flu-like symptoms began shortly before Thanksgiving.

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“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we haven’t really seen flu cases this high, at least here in my practice,” said Elfaki.

According to Elfaki, other respiratory illnesses including RSV and Covid are on the rise too. She said the uptick is normal and to be expected this time of year, but she believes a few factors could be contributing to the fierce start to the flu season.

“The virus is spreading. We haven’t had a lot of people get flu over the past three years. So it might be a little bit of lower immunity. And the fact that we’re not following the quarantine guidelines anymore,” said Elfaki.

Experts like Elfaki are asking people to remember common sense practices like handwashing and staying home when sick.

They also say it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

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If you’re unlucky enough to come down with the flu, antiviral medications can work wonders as long as you start medication within 48 hours of symptoms appearing.

Over the counter medication like Ibuprofen and Tylenol are also key to managing symptoms.

Elfaki also said it’s important to hydrate, since dehydration is one of the most common flu complications that could land you in the hospital.

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