Health experts are on high alert as new data shows a spike in flu cases in the past month in Pima County, according to a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The report shows a 489% increase in flu cases this season in Arizona compared to last.
"We have noticed an early increase in the number of cases we are seeing," said Richard May, with the Pima County Health Department. "It is a bit of a surprise."
Pima County reported 94 cases since October and 74 of those cases in a three-week span last month.
The New England Journal of Medicine studied the flu in the Southern Hemisphere and reported this year's flu vaccine is about 10% effective.
So why get the vaccine?
"The vaccine is better than no vaccine at all," said May.
Health experts advise it is too early to tell whether that statistic is true for the flu in the Northern Hemisphere.
May advises people to still get vaccinated to prevent getting influenza. He says even though flu season has begun, people can still get a flu shot now and it takes about two weeks to kick in.
Some additional tips for staying healthy this winter:
- Wash your hands often
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve
- Use a tissue
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- If you're sick, stay home