ORLANDO, Fla. - Friends and loved ones are mourning the loss of an Orlando man who his family said died after he caught the flu.
There have been least two other flu-related deaths, both of which were children, in the state this flu season.
Doctors said the symptoms of the flu can get very serious very quickly, which is why it's critical for people to pay attention to the signs and immediately contact a doctor.
Over the last week, hundreds of people have been packing medical offices to get treatment for the flu.
Loved ones are now grieving the loss of 58-year-old Joe Morrison, a man who they say was a doting father and a former Orlando area news photographer.
Morrison's family said he got the flu last week and died within 48 hours.
Dr. Richard Elloway, a family medicine physician with Centra Care, did not personally treat Morrison but has treated many flu patients.
He said in severe cases, the flu can quickly become deadly.
"Whenever I diagnose the flu, it's generally like a punch in the face. Just hits you really strong," Elloway said.
The Florida Department of Health said that of the two children in Florida who have died from the flu this winter, one had not been vaccinated and had underlying factors.
Elloway said the people most at risk of dying from the flu or its complications are people who can't fight it off as easily as healthier people.
"Generally, the people that die from the flu are either very, very young or very, very old. It's the people who don't have the immune systems necessarily to take care of the virus," he said.
Elloway said Centra Care has been packed in recent weeks with patients showing up with the flu.
Centra Care says last week it hit a record high of 874 cases in Orlando.
Elloway urges people not to ignore any warning signs if they already have the flu.
"Showing up at a doctor's office 24 to 48 hours into your symptoms, we can diagnose it and treat it," he said.
Health officials said even though the flu shot is not 100 percent effective, it’s still the best way to protect yourself.
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