Influenza cases soar in Arizona due to early start of flu season

PHOENIX - The influenza virus has dramatically increased this season, up 4,289 percent from this time last year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

This time last season, only 18 cases had been reported in the state, but so far this year, cases have surged to 790.

It's believed the increase is due to the early start of the flu season. The first case was reported on October 30, 2012. Last season, the first case wasn't reported until December 14, 2011.

A patient with the influenza virus can actually spread it before he or she even shows and symptoms.

"It's not clear when people stop becoming contagious, but generally, once the fever dies down, your risk is less," said Dr. Thomas Ronan of NextCare Urgent Care.

Ronan said the best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get a flu shot and to wash your hands.

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