Montana has begun to see major increases in the number of flu reports.

For instance, Flathead County last week saw a doubling of reported cases from 44 to 98, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department.

Recent reports saw 450 cases in Billings and Yellowstone County, 57 cases in Great Falls and Cascade County.

As a state, Montana and a few others still are listed as having "regional" outbreaks of flu, which is a level below "widespread." That category exists now in 41 states in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Locally, the Ravalli County Health Office has been urging people to get flu shots, with the emergence of the disease happening much earlier this season. Once you get a shot, it takes about two weeks for the antibodies to develop enough to protect against many strains of the flu.

Even if the vaccine doesn't prevent flu, it has been shown to lessen the severity of the illness.

Vaccines are plentiful this season...but then, apparently, so is the flu.