Danville, VA - Health officials say it is the worst flu season in years.
Doctors are reporting record numbers of cases of the virus much earlier than normal. Danville Regional Medical Center has been hit hard by the early onset of flu season.
Infection Preventionist Linda Sokos says it's the worst she's seen in 25 years.
"We usually don't see our first case of flu until after the first of the year. This year has been unusual in that we started seeing our first cases right at Thanksgiving, " said Sokos.
The emergency room has been filled with patients complaining of flu-like symptoms.
DRMC staff began offering masks to everyone passing through the ER and by Friday, they may begin taking other precautions.
"I expect by the end of the week we may be limiting children from visiting the hospital. We're seeing so much of it now and children are at high risk of getting the flu," said Sokos.
"We are seeing it from Lynchburg down to Danville with an increased number of patients, " said Linda Eld, a nurse practioner.
The new Med-Express in Danville has only been open a few weeks, but they've seen their fair share of cases too.
Their advice to those wanting to stay healthy is not to skip out on getting a flu shot - which is available at many neighborhood pharmacies.
"We're not seeing any people who have gotten their flu shot who actually have the illness, " said Eld.
"Unfortunately we have to get flu-shots every year because the strains change. It does take about 2 weeks before your immunity builds up, but get that shot, " Sokos said.
Other advice is to keep your hands clean and away from your face, get plenty of fluids and rest, and only go to the ER if you absolutely have to.