ATLANTA -- Brace yourselves. The CDC is reporting positive flu tests in the Southeast are up nearly 23 percent this week and it's hitting young adults hard.
"The predominant virus this year so far is H1N1," said epidemiologist Dr. Michael Jhung with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Flu Division.
That's the virus that took the world by storm in 2009, and it's not just the elderly and vulnerable who are susceptible.
"It's affecting a different age group this year -- more young adults rather than elderly this year," Dr. Jhung said.
Georgia's Department of Health reports four deaths so far from the flu, including a child who had underlying medical conditions. The latest report from week 51 shows there were 53 hospitalizations.
Local doctor Jennifer Burkmar, who works in family medicine, has seen more cases earlier this year.
"Last year, I didn't see a lot of cases until the new year. This year it started since probably early November," she said.
Symptoms include body aches, fevers, and chills. Some flu patients also experience a cough, congestion and nausea.
"Some people have vomiting and diarrehea," Dr. Burkmar added.
Symptoms and Precautions
Frequently Asked Questions
The CDC does not recommend plugging up emergency rooms for mild symptoms, but if you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest and abdomen or sudden dizziness, seek immediate attention.
"The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu. Every vaccine offered does protect against H1N1 so we encourage anyone who hasn't been vaccinated yet to go out and get vaccinated as soon as they can," Dr. Jhung said.
The flu season peaks in January and February but can last until May.