BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The flu season is here much earlier than expected.

Normally, the number of West Virginia flu cases doesn’t peak until mid-February. However, hospitals and pediatric centers are seeing far more cases reported and treated than usual.

Mary Jo McGraw, director of infection control and employee health at Beckley ARH, said there are several factors for why the increase in cases has occurred.

“Well, unfortunately, the public is not masking like they have for the last three years and I understand that,” said McGraw. “We have to get back to normal at some time so that leads to an increase of cases of flu transmissions and also that immunities have decreased because of wearing masks for the past three years.”

To limit the spread of the flu, it is recommended you wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow and stay home if you have symptoms.

People over the age of 65 or kids under the age of 5 are most susceptible to getting the flu and young children over 6 months old are able to get the flu vaccine.