The Department of Health is urging Missourians to get a flu shot this season if they haven’t already, and to take other preventive measures to an already widespread case of the flu.

Acting Director Gail Vastering with the Department of Health says during the flu season to date, Missouri has reported 13,065 positive influenza tests, which is an increase from past years.

 Vasterling says much of that has to do with the flu season beginning earlier than usual, which means the peak of the flu season will be earlier as well. Normally, the flu peaks in February. “The flu peak would start around this time of the year, but in this case it started around November,” she says.

Vasterling says if you do have the flu, or think you might have it, the best way to stop the spread is to stay home when you’re sick and not infect others. “We recommend frequent hand washing and also that you cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze,” she says.

Vasterling says those who are most at risk are infants and elders. If someone suspects they have a bad case of the flu, they should go to their local physician and request TamaFlu, if available. She says that would help the symptoms become less than they would be otherwise.

AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:00)