Flu Season Starts Early

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Headaches, nasal congestion and body aches: These are all early signs of influenza.

Doctors in Lincoln are already starting to see patients with these symptoms.

"Influenza is basically an acute repertory illness that can be characterized as acute onset of fever, chills, and some nasal congestion," said Karla Neville, Nurse Practitioner at Heartland Urgent Care.

Heartland Urgent Care on South 27th Street has seen a steady flow of patients the past few days-- Patients complaining of sore throat, along with headaches and backaches.

Neville says she's seen several patients exhibiting the symptoms of influenza; however, she's only treated three positive cases this season.

She says three cases this early in December seems a little high.

"Just looking at the CDC books and other resources, there is an outbreak a little early this year."

The influenza virus is very contagious.

Most times when one person in a family tests positive, the rest of the family is treated for the virus as well.

Neville says it's very important that patients see a doctor within the first 72 hours of exhibiting these symptoms.

This not only helps with treatment, but also prevents the spread of the virus.

"It is important to start within the first 72 hours. It shortens the duration and the severity of the symptoms."

For those who haven't gotten a flu shot, they are still available in several places around town.

Neville suggests people with prior heath concerns such as diabetes, lung disease or other repertory conditions should get a vaccination.