The Department of Public Health is reporting that 17 people in Connecticut have died from an influenza-associated illness.
To date, there are a total of 3,248 reports of the flu with six deaths throughout the state and with the most common type being influenza A (H3N2) virus. Here is the breakdown by county:
Over the last four weeks, the Department of Public Health has seen a "very large increase" in people being hospitalized for influenza-associated illnesses.
State health officials said this season the percentage of total emergency department visits that attributed to the flu/fever syndrome is at level of 12.4 percent versus 8 percent during the previous two seasons.
"When in doubt, when you are sick with the fever and respiratory illness, the best thing you can do is don't be a superhero, stay home and don't spread the infection around," said Dr. Setu Bora from Willaim Backus Hospital.
According to numbers released by William Backus Hospital, there were 15 positive cases for the flu in 2012, while in 2013, there have been 314 cases with an average of 64 per week.
Experts said flu season usually doesn't peak until late January or February, but the cases began early this year. And many expect the numbers to continue to rise for the next few weeks.
Of 17 deaths from influenza-associated illnesses, the Department of Public Health said 15 of them were people who were older than the age of 65. And the other two deaths were people between the ages of 55 and 65.
Hospitals such as William Backus Hospital have posted signs requesting frequent washing of hands and restricted the number of guests allowed to visit patients.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health released the following tips on avoiding the flu:
If someone has not gotten their flu shot yet, doctors are advising Connecticut residents to get one as soon as possible because it is unclear how long this season will last. If you do get a vaccine, it will take 10 to 14 days before it becomes effective.
To find the closest flu vaccine location, click the following link.
Marie Saragusa of Norwich told Eyewitness News that she's prepared. She even got her a flu shot, but isn't taking chances.
"I dress up warm, and I eat healthy foods, I exercise and stay away from people who are sick," she said.
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