By Tracy Clemons

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) - More people are heading to the doctor or even the hospital with flu symptoms this winter. According to numbers from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there are at least 12,000 more cases of both strainsthis flu season than last season.

Families are suffering.

"There's three of us. However, we have our nephew on the weekend, and all four of us have ended up sick," says Natasha Cunningham of Union, Missouri.

Cunningham says at first they thought her son just had a cold. After a few days, his fever spiked, they went to the doctor, and they were all sick.

"It turned into vomiting, high fevers, chills. You name it, we had it."

Three weeks later, they're just starting to recover.

"We still have the hot and cold sweats," Cunningham says. "We'll get the chills really bad, especially in the evening for some reason. My son has a horrible cough still."

"We've had about 150 cases here at Depaul that have been diagnosed in our emergency room, which compares to about 80 to 100 typically at this time of year," Dr. Jay Moore tells us.

Moore is the Vice President for Medical Affairs at SSM DePaul Health Center. He says he doesn't know why flu cases have exploded so early.

"Some years we see a pattern that goes up, goes down a little, then it comes back up. Some years we see a peak and it goes back down."

Hand sanitizing station and face masks are all around DePaul to keep the flu from spreading there. Moore says this flu season should remind everyone how important a flu shot is.

"We just always said no to it. And after this year, Friday it'll be three weeks...we've decided to maybe take into consideration getting that now," says Cunningham.

Dr. Moore says seeing a doctor as soon as you experience any flu symptoms can help. He also says you should wash your hands frequently and sneeze into the inside of your elbow to help keep flu from spreading.

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