A typical flu season lasts 12 weeks, Briscoe said.
Besides confirmed cases, 15,306 West Virginians reported influenzalike illnesses to their health-care providers in December and another 4,389 reported illnesses in January, according to DHHR.
Flulike illnesses could be the flu, winter colds or another virus.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the flu has reached epidemic levels.
At Thomas Memorial Hospital, 56 people have so far been admitted because of the flu, spokeswoman Paige Johnson said. At Saint Francis Hospital, there have been another 40, she said.
The numbers of admissions due to flu last year were not available, but Johnson said there was a significant increase over last year.
The number of flu cases at Charleston Area Medical Center hospitals was not available.
According to the CDC, 47 states -- including West Virginia -- reported widespread flu activity. The illness has killed 20 children nationwide so far this season.
Health officials recommend getting a flu shot and taking other precautions to avoid getting the virus.
"What I do think from my experience is that people need to do all the preventative measures they can and that includes the flu vaccination," Briscoe said. "People can prevent [the flu] or at least prevent serious illness by getting the flu [shot]."
While people with compromised immune systems especially need the vaccine, even healthy people should get a flu shot, because they may transmit the illness to people who are less healthy, she said.
The Health Department has given nearly 14,000 vaccines to the community and still has plenty available, Gupta said. This year's vaccine is 62 percent effective, meaning that two of three people who are vaccinated and encounter the virus will not get sick. The third person is not likely to experience severe symptoms, Gupta said.
People who are sick with the flu should stay home to avoid transmitting the illness, Gupta said. People also should wash their hands frequently.
Health officials are monitoring the flu situation closely, Gupta said.
"We're taking this seriously," Gupta said. "We've seen this movie before and it doesn't turn out well if you don't take people's health seriously."
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.