BOISE -- Emergency room doctors have seen an increase in the number of flu cases in recent days.
They told us although the flu season was delayed a bit this year, it's picking up now.
In about the last three weeks we've seen numerous cases of influenza, said Dr. Peter, Angleton, an emergency room physician at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Angleton added that each day, Saint Alphonsus is treating at least a dozen people with the flu and that number will only go up.
It will probably continue to escalate over the next several weeks I would imagine, he said.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of the seasonal flu according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
-Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
-Runny or stuffy nose
-Muscle or body aches
* It's important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
THE FLU CAN SPREAD EASILY
Doctors told us this time of year, sicknesses including the flu can spread fast because people are spending more time with family and friends for the holidays.
If even just one person is sick it can have a big impact.
It's easily spread from one person to the other, typically by coughing and that sort of thing, said Dr. Angleton. People are crowded together indoors in the winter time. It tends to spread more readily.
Dr. Angleton said it's especially important for people in high risk groups to watch for symptoms and see a doctor if they think they have the flu.
That means women who are pregnant, the elderly and people with existing medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma should be careful.
Doctors also recommend that people in those groups, as well as young children, get vaccinated.
I think it's still worth getting a flu vaccine especially if you're in a high risk group, said Dr. Angleton.
The Central District Health Department provides flu shots for children, but not for adults. You can learn more about availability by clicking here.
Stores like Fred Meyer, Rite Aid and Walgreens offer flu vaccinations. Call your local store for more information.
In addition, Saint Alphonsus has compiled information about the flu vaccine and possible side-effects. You can read more by clicking here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the most common strain of the flu right now is H1N1 also known as swine flu. Symptoms of the H1N1 strain are similar to that of the season flu.
In Boise, Dr. Angleton said physicians have seen mostly Influenza A cases.
So that would be compatible with H1N1, he added.
The CDC reports the flu is spreading across our region. Idaho, Oregon and Washington are all listed at the elevated level for reported cases.
WHEN WILL FLU SEASON PEAK?
Doctors said flu season usually peaks in January or February.
Although the flu is common this time of year, it shouldn't be taken lightly.
Emergency room physicians told us if you think you have the flu, it's best to see a doctor. The flu can lead to life-threatening conditions, like pneumonia, and the sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can get to feeling better.
To learn more about reported cases across the country, you can check out the CDC's weekly influenza report here.