This is a tough time — flu is lingering as allergy season begins.

And that is happening during a spike in flu cases statewide.

"There is a spike in the AH3 in the state, and if you look at the state for right now it is up from last year, though overall it is down," said Toby Harkins, assistant director of the Harvey County Health Department. "Overall it has not been spectacular."

Five people have been through the emergency room with influenza-like illness since March 12.

"It is kind of a small number for Newton, but as far the state, we are up," Harkins said.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports people in 44 states are still dealing with the flu, and pollen is already blanketing much of the south, as well as parts of the west and northwest.  

Kansas is listed as a widespread flu area, and the central Kansas region is already listed in the medium to high pollen counts as well. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there have been 22 influenza outbreaks reported in Kansas this season. 

"I am assuming we will see a spike in flu-like symptoms because of the pollen counts," Harkins said.

Knowing the difference between flu and allergies is key for navigating this period.

"There are some allergy infections and sinus infections that mimic the flu. You would have to consult with a physician to really know the difference," Harkins said. "That is always a good answer, to see a physician."

According to KDHE, the flu often includes a cough and a fever. Allergy sufferers rarely have a fever.