This could turn out to be one of the worst flu seasons in decades.

The state Health Department is continuing to report high levels of influenza-like illness in all parts of the Garden State. Schools, hospitals and nursing homes have all seen a spike in flu cases over the past week.

Dr. Manish Trivedi, the director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, said what’s happening is unusual.

"We’re seeing a high volume of cases with the flu in our emergency departments. Within a time frame of about a month or so, we’ve seen a surge of 97% increase compared to last year’s flu cases," he said.

Trivedi said that if you start coming down with the flu, you don’t necessarily need to go the hospital right away unless you have a pre-existing condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or heart failure.

He noted if you immediately go to the ER just because you start coming down with flu symptoms, you may endanger other patients or you might wind up getting infected with something else.

“So the first step would be to call your primary care provider or pediatrician at the first signs of symptoms," he said. "A lot of these things can be managed from the outpatient setting.”

He said treating someone with the flu typically involves a lot of hydration and rest.

“There are medications that we can use to help decrease the infectivity and decrease some of the symptoms but really you have to be on those medications within 48 hours of your first symptoms," he said.

He said the best thing to do to protect yourself from getting influenza is practice good hand-washing hygiene and get a flu shot.

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