The number of flu cases has risen to more than 1500 statewide. That's compared to nearly 400 cases that was reported at the same time last year in the Show-Me state.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has reported this spike and it is noted with the dramatic increase, Missouri could be seeing an early flu season or that it will be particularly severe.

For 2016-2017, there were more than 70,000 confirmed influenza cases in Missouri. If these trends continue, the state could have even more during the 2017-2018 season.

The most effective two ways to protect yourself and loved during the holiday season is getting your flu shot combined with proper handwashing.

With plenty of germs being spread when getting together with family and friends, medical officials want Missourians to be extra cautious around the holidays.

In addition to getting your flu shot, other preventative steps should be taken:

• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after touching shared objects or surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, remote controls, shopping counters, debit card readers, etc. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
• Stay home while you’re sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

BartekSzewczyk