Doctors warn of longer flu season with stronger strain in Arizona

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Runny noses, coughs, and feeling rundown -- if you have any or all of the above, you could be a casualty of an early start to the flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local doctors say it's already well under way, especially on the East coast, and it's headed our way.

"They're seeing it much earlier especially in the southern states, however, the good thing is that the flu vaccine has the appropriate strain so they're hoping all the vaccinated people will help," said Dr. Kara Geren with Maricopa Medical Center.

Geren said a third of people in the United States already have their flu shot and this year the vaccine is especially important as the CDC warns that this year's flu could pack more of a punch.

"Generally more serious symptoms and more people that are going to get sicker," Geren said.

So far this year, the Arizona Department of Health has seen 70 reported cases. The majority of those, more than 60, came down just in the last few weeks. Because of that recent increase, Geren and many other doctors are asking those who don't normally get the shot to consider it.

"It is better to prevent, and even if you feel like the flu vaccine makes you sick, which it usually does not, it is worth it," she said.

On average, 24,000 Americans die from the flu each year.

For a link to the CDC's webpage monitoring the spread of flu, click here.