DALLAS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — Dallas County has issued a health alert after noticing a spike in flu cases this season.

In a statement released Friday, the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services said the virus came earlier than normal this season.

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Greater than 10% of influenza tests in area hospitals have already been reported positive over the past two consecutive weeks. As expected during the early portion of the influenza season in our area, numbers of influenza-associated emergency department visits and intensive-care hospitalizations are beginning to increase. Influenza B viruses have been reported most frequently nationally and locally this season to date.

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With an increase in activity, the DCHHS advises healthcare providers to be aware of the following recommendations:

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  • Encourage all patients 6-months-old and up, who have not yet received an influenza vaccine this season, to be vaccinated.
  • Encourage all with flu-like illness who are at risk for complications to seek medical care promptly to determine if antiviral medications are warranted.
  • Decisions about starting antiviral treatment should not wait for laboratory confirmed of influenza.
  • Antiviral therapy is recommended as soon as possible — regardless of negative RIDT results — for any patient with suspected influenza who is hospitalized, has severe, complicated, or progressive illness, or is at high risk for influenza complications.
  • Consider antibiotic therapy in influenza patients with suspected bacterial co-infections.
  • Remind parents of children with suspected influenza to adhere to school illness policies.

Weekly DCHHS influenza reports are available on their website.