GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Cover your cough, the flu is highly contagious and Mesa County residents are being hit hard by the epidemic.
Hospitals in the area have seen a huge increase in people being treated for the virus in the last couple of weeks.
Right before Christmas there were five reported cases of the flu leading to hospitalizations. Just three weeks later that number has jumped to 32 here in Mesa County
Experts say some people can get the flu, feel sick for a week or two and get over it, but kids under the age of five and people 65 and older are at a higher risk of developing complications like pneumonia, which could land them in the hospital.
Although experts say they don't know exactly why there has been such a big increase, they say the holidays may have had something to do with it. Mesa County Health Department Spokeswoman Veronica Harvey said, "Part of it is because people have been in close quarters without windows open and around a lot of family members for the holidays and so that's a likely place for germs to spread."
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, body aches and headaches.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting the flu is still by getting a flu shot. It takes two weeks to take full effect, but the sooner you get it, the sooner you'll be protected. And while the season may be in full swing, flu season can last well into May.
Along with getting a flu shot, there are other ways you can stay healthy. Experts suggest washing your hands frequently, exercising, eating a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep. If you do feel like you're coming down with something, stay home, because the flu can spread quickly.