(KCEN) -- The Scott & White Memorial Hospital Microbiology Lab confirms that flu season is officially here.

At least three cases have tested positive in Bell and Williamson counties. With the flu season starting and cooler temperatures arriving, doctors encourage everyone to get vaccinated, especially children and the elderly.

Influenza has a rapid onset of symptoms. It can take as little as a couple of hours for a person to suddenly feel ill. The flu typically lasts five days and the symptoms are those of a common cold. Additionally, the flu may present high fever, chills and body aches in a patient.

Recommended treatments include those symptomatic treatments used for a cold, with the possible addition of antiviral medications. However, doctors say that the use of such medicines must begin within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms in order to be effective. In most cases the medications only shorten the course of the illness by one or two days.

Doctors encourage the following tips to prevent contracting or spreading the flu:

  • Wash hands with soap and warm, running water or use hand sanitizer often
  • Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • If possible, reduce your exposure to infected individuals
  • Use over-the-counter medications or prescriptions to treat your symptoms
  • If your symptoms persist, consult your physician.

For more information about the flu, or to find a clinic or pharmacy providing flu shots, visit http://www.sw.org/flu/flu