JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville's hospitals are reporting an influx in the number of flu cases this season, and Action News has learned it could get much worse.
"This is one of the busiest flu seasons we've seen," says Adam Landau, spokesman for Memorial Hospital and its Julington Creek Emergency Department. "It started in November, really picked up in December, and it has continued through January. Many years you'll see people come in with flu-like symptoms, but you can't diagnose it specifically as the flu. This year, we are able to diagnose a lot of cases of the flu and I know that's something hospital all across the country are seeing as well."
It's only expected to get worse according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It reports Florida has one of the highest numbers of flu cases across the country, and flu season isn't expected to peak for another two weeks.
The Florida Health Deparment reports that five percent of all ER visits last week were related to the flu, and some local health clinics blame tourists, who they say brought the flu with them during the holidays.
Care Spot in St. Augustine says flu cases are up 167 percent since Christmas, and in Jacksonville, it's up 342 percent.
While local hospitals are reporting higher numbers than usual, they tell Action News they are not over-flowing, and they staffed knowing the increase of cases was possible.
"We staff know there will be peak seasons," said Landau, "and, of course, yearly we are ready for the flu season because that is something that can hit us hard and this year it is hitting us hard."