Flu season in Orlando 'quite worst we've ever seen' says Centra Care

Last Updated: Thursday, February 08, 2018, 6:06 PM EST

The flu season is on track to be one of the worst we've seen in years, according to Florida Hospital Centra Care.

"We've been tracking flu numbers for 10 to 15 years at Centra Care and here in Orlando this is by far the worst we've ever seen," said Dr. Timothy Hendrix with Centra Care. "I mean, it's twice as bad as our previous worst season, so I mean we're seeing a tremendous number of people coming into Centra Care with the flu and we've never anticipated these types of volumes of flu this year."

While Hendrix says the flu vaccine is not as effective this year, he suspects there is another issue that is making this year's flu season worse.

"Our previous record setting season two years ago happened because there was a mutation in the virus, so the vaccine was only 13 percent effective that year," Hendrix said. "But even that year we didn't see these kind of flu numbers, so something else was going on the virus, it's more contagious, it's easier to spread, there are a lot of factors.  It's not a real clear cut picture with the flu. If we knew, we would be able to predict better, but we just don't know enough information. So something's going on with this virus and we're seeing more people falling sick with it."

The flu has been especially difficult on young children and the elderly. Fifty-three children have died so far because of the flu, with thousands of people hospitalized across the country. The CDC says flu and flu-like illness activity is likely to be high for a few more weeks.

If you are caring for someone who is sick with the flu, Centra Care has 5 things you should do:

  1. Remind everyone in your household to wash their hands properly and often.
  2. Hand to fact contact needs to be avoided.
  3. Keep the flu patient away from others as much as possible. The virus can spread mainly by droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk.
  4. The virus can survive on surfaces for 2 to 8 hours, so disinfect often.
  5. Be sure the flu patient finishes any medication they are prescribed, even if they feel better.

And if you do have the flu, stay home, Dr. Hendrix said.

IN DEPTH: Severe flu season, with Centra Care's Dr. Timothy Hendrix