Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola continues to see people sickened by the flu outbreak that arrived early in Pensacola this year and has lasted longer than a typical flu season.

The first signs of the flu outbreak appeared in late October and the number of cases kept climbing throughout November and December. For the period from Oct. 28 through Jan. 5, Sacred Heart Hospital ran lab tests on 1,923 people who had flu-like symptoms. Of those, 546 tested positive for influenza.

Since the beginning of December, the Sacred Heart Urgent Care Center in Pensacola has seen 186 people with flu-like symptoms. (The Urgent Care Center on Hwy 29 is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Influenza is thought to spread from one person to another when the infected person coughs or sneezes. There are some things you can to do protect yourself and others, according to CDC.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. If you don't have a tissue, CDC suggests that you cough or sneeze into your elbow. Be sure to wash the shirt, blouse, jacket, etc. that you are wearing as soon as possible.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.