COURTENAY, B.C.- Flu season is here, according to Island Health.

Dr. Paul Hasselback said they first noticed an outbreak in Nanaimo, which has now spread up the Island.

“Over the last week, out of the Courtenay office, which covers the whole of the North Island, we have seen an increasing number of identification of positive influenza,” he said.

“It’s just the first sign that we see that (influenza) is here, it’s going to spread and we’re on the upswing of the influenza season.”

Hasselback said notable symptoms for influenza include a fever accompanied by muscle pains, often headaches.

“Many people complain about being ‘whacked out’, and with all this comes a cough.”

He noted that it’s important to maintain proper hygiene, that includes regular hand washing, and getting the flu shot to decrease your chances of catching influenza.

If you do feel sick, there are a few things to do to avoid spreading the flu.

“If you are coughing or sneezing, do so into your sleeve or a tissue (and) wash your hands afterwards,” he said.

“If you are sick and you have to get out, it’s okay to wear a mask.”

Other health safety suggestions from Island Health include avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Hasselback said Island Health asks people not to visit their long-term care facilities if they are sick and if possible, to avoid emergency departments, especially if health care needs can be met by a physician or at a walk-in clinic.

As far as the old suggestion to take vitamin C, Hasselback said that’s not necessarily a sure-fire way to avoid getting the flu.

“There’s not a lot of evidence that particular vitamins are actually going to be of much benefit in the midst of an illness of this nature,” he said.

“That’s not to say that they will be harmful, particularly if they are not taken in large volumes.”

He said the best thing to do is simple, and that’s getting some rest.

“Also, make sure that you are getting lots of fluids.”

Hasselback said if you do need to take something to bring down your fever, acetaminophen is probably your best choice.

For more on the flu, visit Island Health’s website.