Flu season severe in Hillsborough, Pinellas

Flu season is hitting Bay Area residents hard, according to state statistics.

"Headaches, body aches, and sometimes coughs and contestants," said Dr. Jack Tseng, the medical director at South Tampa Immediate Care.

The clinic says six patients tested positive on Saturday, and another five tested positive Tuesday.

"This year's strain has mutated in the way that it's evading the immune system," said Tseng.

The state health department released a map showing that almost every Bay Area county is seeing an increase in flu activity. 

Another map shows Hillsborough and Pinellas are two of four counties with more than five outbreaks, mostly in places like schools, daycares, and nursing homes.

LINK: UCF medical researchers working on flu shot that would last a lifetime

"It may be a combination of things, we have had colder weather earlier, and the virus survives better in cold weather," said FOX 13 Medical Doctor, Dr. Joette Giovinco. "We have had holidays, a lot of travel, a lot of close contact."

The state also released a graph that shows this is the earliest flu season since 2014. 

The CDC expects it to last another eleven to thirteen weeks, which would likely make it longer than any in the last five years.

Dr. Jo says it takes up to two weeks to build immunity. She also says flu shots are a must for those already at risk. 

According to the state health department, two children have died in Florida this season.

"But that doesn't mean that healthy, normal young people can't also have severe cases," said Dr. Jo.