COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Dr. Joseph Conklin with Columbus Regional Health said he's already seen his fair share of patients coming into his office, saying they have flu-like symptoms.
"We're seeing a fair amount this year," he said. "Maybe a little more compared to last year."
Numbers across the country only support his observation. The Centers for Disease Control reported 14,401 confirmed flu cases during the week of January 13, bringing the season's total to 74,562 cases.
The CDC does point out that these numbers do not include all people who have had the flu, and many do not see a doctor when sick.
Still, Conklin said folks shouldn't risk avoiding a visit to the doctor's office, where they can get a better sense of someone's symptoms.
"A virus can also cause that kind of stuff," Conklin said, "but a lot of it's more of the timing and duration of the symptoms that kind of clue us in to 'this could be the flu' vs. just a virus."
For those who haven't caught the bug, here's what the doctor recommends: limit contact with someone you know has the flu or is getting over the flu. Next, wash your hands frequently, and also, try to avoid sharing drinks with someone showing flu symptoms or even someone who's still recovering from the flu.
Conklin also suggested folks get themselves vaccinated, to at least improve their chances of fighting the virus.
"[It's] not a guarantee that you will not get the flu," he said, "but it does help some people and it does seem to limit the symptoms."
Conklin also added anyone with the flu can ask his or her doctor for prescription drugs like Tamiflu, but only if their medical providers recommend it.