Medical experts expect flu season to arrive late - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Medical experts expect flu season to arrive late

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo has seen very few cases of the flu this season, but that could change soon.

Dr. Todd Bell , Regional Chairman for the Department of Pediatrics at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said historically, Amarillo sees the flu hit around February. But for the past few years, that peak has come in December or January.

"For the past two or three years we've actually had a little bit of an early season," said Bell. "I think in our minds as both doctors as well as patients we start to think, 'oh hey well the past two years the flu was in December or January, we haven't seen anything, so maybe we're gonna miss it this year.' Chances are, we're still gonna get the flu."

Bell expects the flu to hit Amarillo around the second week in February, and has several reasons why the virus is expected to hit later this year.

One reason is the delay in cold weather this winter.
 
"Flu tends to spread faster if it's colder weather," said Bell. "That both relates to how viable the virus is when it's on door knobs, or people are shaking hands. But it also has to do with what we call social distancing - the fact that during cold weather, people tend to congregate indoors where they're more likely to spread the flu from one person to another."

When the H1N1 virus hit around 2009, Bell said it altered Amarillo's usual flu pattern.

People who have not gotten their flu shots have just enough time to do so, with just less than a month before the flu may hit hard.

"The flu vaccine takes about two weeks to start working," said Bell. "If somebody got their flu vaccine today, if the flu really strikes hot and heavy in the second week of February, then that patient is going to be sort of optimally protected."

To avoid the flu, wash your hands frequently, and stay home from work or school if you think you may be infected.

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