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The link between flu season and mild winters

Flu's relationship to winter

Flu season in the near future could be a lot more worse than it already is, according to a 2013 article published in PLOS Currents.  The study explains how a mild winter can be followed by an unusually severe flu season. This study was conducted using data going back as far as the '97 flu season. The research within the article found a pattern that showed the relationship of an early and severe flu season following a warmer-than- average winter.

This isn't the first study done on the relationship between the flu and winter.  Previous studies have shown how above-average winters can leave populations vulnerable to the virus, because fewer people will develop the antibodies they need to fight the bug.  

ABC 17 News spoke to Ashley Makowski, who is a family nurse practitioner at Broadway Urgent Care and she understands the reasoning behind this study.

"I feel that sometimes with a more mild winter, you don't have as many flu cases and I think that's more evident that healthy people are out and about and farther apart from each other," Makowski said.

This is because the flu is spread through respiratory droplets, which is more easily spread when you are near someone.

Flu season has been in full swing since October and here in Missouri widespread activity has been reported. Although the flu is peaking, your chances of contracting the virus is still significantly high.  Across Boone County, clinics have said they've seen an increase in patients testing positive for the virus.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that this year there has been roughly 20 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, more than a 50 percent drop from the previous year.

While the flu typically peaks in February, it isn't too late to get the flu shot and be prepared the next time you come in contact with the virus.

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