Flu officially arrives in Arizona; doctors urge people to get shots

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PHOENIX -- Just in time for the holiday, the flu has officially come to Arizona.

The Arizona Department of Health Services and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health on Friday confirmed the state's first two cases of the flu.

One patient is a woman in her 70s who did not get a flu shot. The other case is a man in his 30s. It's not clear whether he got a vaccination. Both patients are recovering.

"These two cases are just the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health, in a news release. "We know that many people who are experiencing the flu right now will never be counted in our statewide flu numbers. These people are doing the right thing; staying home, drinking plenty of liquids and getting well without the need to see their healthcare provider."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot, which protects against three different strains of the virus.

The idea behind getting a flu shot is not just to protect yourself, but also to protect others who might be at risk for potentially deadly flu-related complications, including those older than 65, pregnant woman, very young children and people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

To find a flu shot clinic, call 602-324-2814 in the Phoenix metro area or 1-877-764-2670 statewide.

In addition to getting a flu shot, health experts say it's essential to practice good hygiene. Doctors say you should cough and sneeze into your sleeve rather than into your hands and wash your hands well and frequently. They also stress that you should stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading germs.

Flu symptoms can come on quickly and include fever, headache and muscle aches, chills, fatigue, cough and a runny or stuffy nose.

Although the flu is a year-round illness, flu season generally runs from October through late May, according to the CDC. In Arizona, the season usually is worst early in the year.

Last year, Arizona recorded near 10,000 flu cases. Five children died as a result of the flu virus.