Flu activity still up in Huntsville, so keep practicing good hygiene habits

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - There are still widespread cases of the flu reported across much of the Southeast, including Alabama. All but two counties in our state are not reporting significant flu activity, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Huntsville Hospital says they've had an increase in flu cases in the emergency room in the last month.  They remind everyone to use good hygiene and get checked out if you experience any symptoms.

Over the last month, Huntsville Hospital's Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Ali Hassoun says his team has definitely seen an increase in flu cases.

"That's not uncommon, actually," said Hassoun.  "You can see it peak sometimes in October and November, but the most usual time is January and February."

The hospital didn't have exact numbers on those hospitalized in the last month, but Dr. Hassoun says the flu most often affects the elderly and those with multiple ailments. He adds, though, this year's flu is still very light compared to years past.

Dr. Ali Hassoun is the Infectious Disease Specialist at Huntsville Hospital. (WHNT News 19)

Dr. Ali Hassoun is the Infectious Disease Specialist at Huntsville Hospital. (WHNT News 19)

"I think part of it is the vaccinations. You hear it's not 100% effective, but it is about 50 to 60% effective," said Hassoun.

Dr. Hassoun says that's still good, because even if you do get the flu if you've had the vaccination, you are more likely to have much milder symptoms.

He says you should take precautions over the next few weeks, as constantly changing weather -- "always affects your upper respiratory tract in a way of can make it more prone to irritation and inflammation and because of that it can make it easier to cause infection."

Huntsville Hospital encourages everyone to get the flu shot. They say 92 percent of their employees received it this year.  They add employers who encourage the flu shot early on help keep the entire community from falling ill.