CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - So far, health officials say seven people have already died from flu-related illness. Three of those recently reported with one, right here, in Mecklenburg County.
With flu numbers on the rise, doctors are urging people to do all they can to protect themselves.
Cold and flu medicines are flying off the shelves at pharmacy's across Mecklenburg County.
"yeah, I've got a couple friends right now that are sick," a local resident said.
Everyone is susceptible to the flu but children under five. people over 65 and those with underlying diseases such as heart disease, asthma, and emphysema are at a greater risk.
But how do you know if you have the flu or just a cold?
"Flu is typically much more severe with high fever, severe cough, cold, congestion, headache, coughing, sometimes vomiting, diarrhea, severe body aches and chills."
The cold can last from two to three days, while the flu can last up to a week. Dr. Bregier said it's not too late to get the flu shot.
"The flu shot this year is a good match for preventing the flu. The major strains of the flu that are being reported are all included in the flu vaccine."
But not everyone agrees that getting the flu shot is a good idea. Elizabeth Dennis said she has never had the flu shot and has only had the flu one time.
"I prefer not to. It seems like you get more sicker when you do that," she said.
For flu prevention it's recommended you:
- Wash your hands often and with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your elbow
- Stay home until you;ve gone at least 24 hours without a fever
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and Doctor Bregier said that should start with the flu shot.
"We can't stress the importance of getting the flu shot. It really saves many lives. We very much encourage people, if you haven't gotten one, please go get one soon."
For more information on the flu, CLICK HERE!