Where are you headed during the holidays? You may be flying right into flu territory.
The flu season is off to an early start, hitting southern states hard, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Flu cases have spiked in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi,Tennessee and Texas which is considered one of the earliest starts in 10 years.
The latest numbers from the CDC show five children nationwide have died from flu this season.
There haven't been a lot of flu cases in California, but that could change, according to Dr. D. Scott Smith, an infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City
"I think we should consider it an early warning that the southern states are getting hit hard, a reminder to protect yourself with a flu shot," Smith said.
Kaiser Northern California has already given flu shots to more than a million patients. There is no shortage of the vaccine this year and preliminary assessments indicate the vaccine appears to be a good match with the virus that is circulating.
If you are going to be in a crowded airport this holiday season remember the flu virus can linger for hours on surfaces such as door knobs, arms of chairs and toilet seat handles. Dr. Smith also says it's possible for the flu virus to travel six to eight feet in the air after an infected person coughs. He says your best defense is to get your vaccine and wash your hands thoroughly.