FARMINGTON -- If the cubicle or desk next to you has been empty, influenza or contagious flu-like symptoms may be to blame.
And those desks may sit empty for an extended period of time based on the upswing in flu cases since Jan. 1.
During this flu season, which began Sept. 30 and will conclude May 18, 31 Davis County residents have been hospitalized with the flu or flu-like symptoms, according to Davis County Health officials.
The number of hospitalizations resulting from the flu, during the last four months, has already surpassed the 27 people who were hospitalized with the flu during the 2011-2012 season, Davis County Health epidemiologist Brian Hatch said.
"It is still too early to know what that really means," Hatch said of the 2012-2013 flu season totals.
But one thing for certain, he said, is the flu season this year seems to have arrived early.
Weber-Morgan County residents are not faring much better, with 16 hospitalizations reported this flu season in the two county area, according to Weber-Morgan County Health officials.
"Last year we really had a mild influenza season," said Amy Carter, a registered nurse with Weber-Morgan County Health.
She said health officials are definitely seeing more cases this year than they did last season.
Carter said it is difficult to predict which direction the flu season is going to go or when it will conclude.
"Every flu season can be different. This year they've seen cases earlier than usual," she said. "It's hard to know from this point what it will do."
Carter said she would classify this year's flu strain activity as "moderate, with such viruses circulating as the respiratory syncytial virus in children, and sinus and strep throat infections.
"Symptoms that are similar to the flu, but don't test positive for influenza," Carter said.
Despite that, health officials continue to encourage the public to receive a flu vaccination, because the vaccine has proven to be effective against some of the different virus strains being spread around. People are also encouraged to regularly wash their hands, cover their mouths when coughing and stay home when sick.
Flu symptoms can include fever, chills, a cough, sore throat, a stuffy or running nose, body aches, fatigue, tiredness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea, Carter said.
Vaccines are available at health clinics, select drug or grocery stores or through physicians' offices.
Hatch said he recommends that anyone older than 6 months receive a flu vaccination.