Flu cases on the rise just few weeks into season

VIDEO: Flu cases on the rise just few weeks into season
Published: Nov. 18, 2014 at 4:13 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2014 at 4:14 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The flu season is upon us, and health professionals say it's already picking up. According to officials with Roper St. Francis, they've had 136 flu cases so far, most of them in the last couple of weeks.

The timing of flu season is very unpredictable and can vary from year to year. Flu activity, usually, peaks between December and February, however, it can begin as early as October and continue into May.

"This flu is nasty," says mother of two, Nichole Stevens. "It's hitting fast. So, my advice would be just go, call and schedule an appointment with your pediatrician and get it done."

Stevens' daughters, seven and ten, were vaccinated last Thursday. She says early Sunday, her youngest, was showing symptoms.

"By 2:30, 1:30 in the morning she woke up with 102 or higher fever, so it was pretty bad. It was just that quick that it came on."

Stevens says her daughter was likely exposed before she was vaccinated. Dr. Robert Oliverio, primary care physician with Roper St. Francis, says it takes a few weeks after the vaccination for the body to develop antibodies and protect against the flu.

"You hear the stories all the time, when I had my flu shot I got sick. That's true, true and unrelated. It's not because of the flu shot. You probably got a little bit of a cold."

Each flu season, the Centers for Disease Control predict the type of flu strains that will most likely appear, and, usually, it's the same from year-to-year. The various vaccines are designed to protect against three to four strains of Influenza A and Influenza B.

"There's a four-strain flu vaccine, a three-strain flu vaccine and high-dose three-strain flu vaccine, so depending on the type of vaccine you get, you'll be more covered with one than the other."

Oliverio says, while discussion of Ebola has dominated the medical field, he says the flu poses a much greater risk.

"If there was an Ebola vaccine now, you would see people lining up at the door for Ebola vaccine, where for us really the risk is minimal. Ten-thousand to 40,000 people, every year, die of influenza."