Halifax Co., VA -Health officials in our area say this is the worst flu season in recent memory, and emergency rooms have been hit hard with wait times being as long as two to three hours.
Experts say it's important to know when you should go to the hospital and when it's best to stay home to avoid making the outbreak even worse.
"We are over I believe 225 positive flu cases in our ER and our doctor's offices," said Millie Lavaway, the infection control manager at the Halifax Regional Hospital.
Lavaway says the workers in the ER are doing their best to handle all of the cases, but it is easy to become overwhelmed.
"Not only is it flu season, the ER is also handling all the other cases and everything else that comes into the ER on an annual basis."
Some patients are seeing the effects of the outbreak in the waiting room.
"Obviously the wait times have increased," said Sherri Bee, clinical director at the Halifax Regional Hospital.
Hospitals across the region have modified visitor policies and started providing face masks for guests entering the hospital, whether they have flu-like symptoms or not.
Officials say it's best to treat yourself at home if possible and consult your personal care physician. Stay out of the ER if you can help it.
But Lavaway says if you have a fever over 102 or you fall into a demographic of people that struggle with the flu, a hospital visit may be necessary.
"If you're over 65 or under the age of 5 years old, or if you are an immune-compromised person, if you get the flu then, it could be very, very serious," she said.
"Obviously every flu season is different, but we do hope it will end and there will be as few complications as possible from it," said Bee.
Some health officials say the flu shot is still the best defense. But some experts say it may not protect against a new mutated strain of the virus that has recently developed. So always be sure to wash your hands and avoid large groups of people when possible.