Local and state health care providers have reported an increase in influenza patients recently.

Local and state health care providers have reported an increase in influenza patients recently.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and The Centers for Disease Control indicate a spike in patients with flu-like symptoms compared to the past several years.

The office of Dr. Peter E. Dewitt said they have seen two to three confirmed cases already this season. Many have come in with coughs, sore throats, fevers and sinus infections. Individuals obtained these symptoms earlier — the flu usually peaks in February — and those who do are taking longer to get over it. Altogether, patients for this season are about twice of the norm for the office.

Nurses at Dr. James T. Prescott and Dr. Dan M. Lichty's office said they have not seen more patients with the flu, but those who have it are taking longer to return to health. Some who cannot fight it off also are obtaining post-influenza pneumonia.

Sheila Schrag, nurse supervisor at Associates in Family Care, said their offices have seen more cases of the flu this year, the majority of them Influenza A. Some of these cases include individuals who have received the flu shot.

“There’s so many strains,” she said. “I think it’s difficult for any pharmaceutical company to come up with any fail-proof vaccine.”

Schrag said, however, those who receive the flu shot get over the symptoms more quickly.

The spike of the flu for Associates in Family Care was at its highest in the last two weeks. Cyril Russell, director of marketing at McPherson Hospital, said the facility has not seen an abnormal amount of flu cases this season. The hospital has seen about six cases so far, an increase from last year, which boasted an abnormally low number of flu patients. Some individuals have come down with pneumonia, which Russell said could be a result of influenza.

On average, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu yearly, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu complications, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The best way to prevent obtaining the flu is to receive the vaccination. It is also recommended to cover coughs and sneezes, frequently wash hands with soap and water, avoid touching the face and stay home when sick.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration. It might also worsen other chronic conditions.

For more information, visit http://www.kdheks.gov/ or http://www.cdc.gov/