WOODBURY - Health officials are warning of a spike in flu cases and its possible implications.
The last time a flu season started this early was 2003-2004, and it was one of the most deadly flu seasons in 35 years, with more than 48,000 deaths.
Health officials say flu cases have jumped across the country and it is a strain that is making people sicker than usual. The higher than normal reports of the flu have come in from five southern states so far. Officials say the high numbers usually do not happen until after Christmas.
Flu-related hospitalizations are also rising earlier than usual. Flu season usually peaks in midwinter.
Symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, head aches, body aches and fatigue.
The numbers are not high in New York just yet, but health officials say that doesn't matter and it could be predicting a worse flu season for us as well.
Officials say pregnant women, children younger than 5 years old, people 65 and older and people of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are most susceptible.
Health officials say an estimated 112 million Americans have already been vaccinated.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months old and up.