As holidays approach, flu, other illnesses likely to spike

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- Flu season in underway in the Ozarks, but so far, cases of the influenza virus have been few and far between at Lake Regional Hospital.

"So far this year, it's been pretty sporadic," said Trevor Schuneman, Physician Assistant.

Lake Regional says between its hospital and clinics, they've seen fewer than 20 reported cases.

That could soon change, thanks to next week's Thanksgiving holiday.

"All it takes is a little bit of coughing, a little bit of sneezing, and then you start seeing it spread pretty rapidly," Schuneman said.

Being inside with all the family you haven't seen since last year could expose you to more germs.

But, there is an easy way to make sure those relatives aren't sharing more than just a turkey dinner with you.

"Handwashing is very important, especially with colds, as those can be transmitted person to person that way," Schuneman added.

If you can't wash your hands with soap and water, hand sanitizer works as a quick alternative.

Doctors also say to cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow, not your hands, when you sneeze or cough.

However, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV - another respiratory illness common in children and seniors - is already on the rise.

"Older children, teens, adults most of the time it just feels like a cold. But really young children, less than six months of age, it can be a lot harder for them," Schuneman said.

Doctors say if you are experiencing a fever and other flu symptoms like coughing, a sore throat, or runny nose, doctors say just stay home from work, school, or Thanksgiving dinner with the family.