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Jan 2, 2013 7:26 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Pima County sees surge in flu cases, as does country

TUCSON - This is the worst flu season the nation has seen in 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

An early surge in the flu season, health officials said, has many Arizonans reaching for those tissues.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, moe than 581 flu cases have been confirmed statewide so far, while only 10 cases were confirmed at this time last year.

Every county, with the exception of Gila and La Paz, have reported influenza cases this season. Pima County's most recent numbers wrack up to 62 confirmed cases so far. However, health experts said those numbers are misleading.

"Because those are only confirmed cases confirmed by influenza testing, we are seeing a lot of flu that we do not necessarily test for to confirm becase we can tell be symptoms that this is influenza," said Patricia Moore, a nurse who sorks a CVS Minute Clinic.

Magda Murtey has been battling the flu for more than a week. "Head cold, a headache, stomachache, ears, you name it," Murtey said, getting sick even after trying her best to avoid it.

"Vitamins, washing my hands, not being around people who are sick...but you can't help it, it's in the air," she said.

However, Pima County health officials argue that the flu season is typically unpredictable. "It's too early to tell what the flu season will become in the weeks and months ahead, but we encourage people who haven't been vaccinated to get vaccinated," said, Michael Acoba, an epedimiologist with the Pima County Health Department.

While the number of confirmed cases is on track to mirror previous years, health officials hope that the early start to the flu season will translate to an early end.

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