Flu season may be spiking earlier in Georgia, experts warn

The flu season is spiking early this fall. Georgia leads the nation in flu-like illnesses according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hospitals like Children's Healthcare of Atlanta say they’re seeing up to three times as many patients in their emergency rooms. Medical experts say flu season is here a lot sooner than usual.

"We’re seeing it very early," said Rosie Carr, a registered nurse.  "It usually starts at the end of November when you start seeing a lot of flu cases. The flu is on the rise."

Georgia and Washington D.C., report high flu activity according to the centers for disease control. Most other regions report low flu activity.

"I’m seeing where they are getting very sick. They’re even getting hospitalized with severe body aches, shortness of breath," Carr said.

"There’s no doubt there’s an increase in the number of flu cases," said Dr. Cecil Bennett, Medical Director for Newnan Family Medicine and Associates. He says he’s seeing a surge in the flu other respiratory viruses, including the common cold on top of COVID. "Usually patients come in with run-of-the-mill symptoms, cough, congestion, headache, fever.

"We’re also in asthma season. I think that also is playing a role in the number of adults and children who are having severe reactions to this flu season," Dr. Bennett said.

Officials at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta say they are seeing an unprecedented number of patients in their emergency rooms. Dr. Bennett says metro Atlanta hospitals, already strained during the pandemic, could be in for a tough flu season, especially since Wellstar announced it is closing Atlanta Medical Center.

"Having one less hospital in the system does not help at all," Dr. Bennett said.

Medical experts recommend you wash your hands, avoid touching your nose and mouth, wear a mask if you want to take extra precautions and get a flu shot.