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After an early start, the flu is causing crowded doctor's offices and hospital emergency rooms in metro Atlanta.
"It's serious in terms of total cases, and serious in terms of clinical illness," said Dr. Pat O'Neal, Director of the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Typically, the flu season begins in January or Febuary. This year patients started feeling ill in December.
Experts say the intensity of this year's flu is more extreme than usual.
"You literally feel you're in a vise that's gripping you," said O'Neal.
Damian Hart knows that all too well. He visited the Doctor's Express on Howell Mill Road with a 102-degree temperature.
"Usually with the flu I feel better after a couple of days," said Hart. "This time I couldn't get out of bed. I had to have someone pick me up and drive me here."
There have been 332 people hospitalized with the flu in metro Atlanta since October.
Piedmont Hospital has seen 25 cases in the last ten days.
"People have had complications which include pnumonia, severe enough to hospitalize them," said Dr. Thomas Upshaw.
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