Arizona flu season off to an early start

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Flu season is off to a fast and strong start and has already claimed the life of a child in Maricopa Coun Flu season is off to a fast and strong start and has already claimed the life of a child in Maricopa Coun
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

If you have body aches, and a fever, you likely have the flu. So do hundreds of other Arizonans.

Those symptoms are not to be taken lightly. One flu patient, a child in Maricopa County, has died. 

Statewide, there have been 530 confirmed cases of the flu this season. This time last year, there were only 86. 

[RELATED: Flu spreading weeks ahead of schedule in Maricopa County]

Records kept by the Arizona Department of Health Services show that's also nearly a 600 percent increase from the average flu season. 

For all the confirmed cases, there are likely many more. Most people do not go to the doctor when they have the flu, so many cases go unreported. 

Dr. Frank LoVecchio with Maricopa County Integrated Health System says this means the 2017-2018 flu season seems to have started early and picked up quickly. 

"It's unfortunate. It's way too high, way too soon, and we know that a lot of people die unfortunately from the flu. Usually, those are extremes of age, the very old and the very young or those with lots of medical problems, but arguably its the most costly public health emergency out there," said LoVecchio.

[RELATED: Pediatric center using video conferencing for first time this cold and flu season]

And it's not over yet. On average, Dr. LoVecchio estimates each person with the flu will give it to three more people. 

The good news is the most prevalent strain and the one responsible for killing a child is covered by the flu shot this year. It's not too late to get yours if you haven't already. 

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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