Despite downward flu trend in Greene County, health expert warns against complacency

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The number of flu cases reported each week is slowly declining in Greene County. According to the Department's website, there were 583 cases reported last week. The first week of February, there were 668 reported cases. The second week of February saw 611 reported flu cases.

KY3 News talked with medical experts to see if this means the flu season is coming to an end.

The Manager of Infection Prevention at Mercy Hospital in Springfield said the flu season is not over and the virus is still lingering in the environment.

Julie Warner said this decline is most likely because of a decrease in testing from providers.

"When somebody's coming in and complaining of a headache, fever, runny nose, cough, that's the flu," began Warner. "So, they're either given Tamiflu if it fits that window or are hopefully able to go home, push the fluids, get lots of rest." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports many providers don't test for the flu because it won't change the treatment plan for the patient.

Warner also pointed out that the flu season in the Ozarks could last longer than in other areas because it is such a popular tourist destination. She said people can get the flu at any point in the year.

This flu season, influenza B has been reported more than influenza A in the Springfield-Greene County area.

Warner reminded those who have already been sick to stay cautious because you can get the flu more than once.

"Sometimes we see people that have both flu A and B, which those people are very sick," said Warner. "If you have A you can turn around and get B, that's why it's so important, even now when we think the numbers are going down, to protect yourself."

Warner encouraged people to practice healthy habits all year long, like washing your hands. She also said people should rub in hand-sanitizer for 20 seconds if soap and water is not available.

She also said to keep a safe distance from people who are coughing or sneezing, saying the average germ from a cough or sneeze can travel six-feet, at a minimum. Lastly, she advised people to stay home if they are not feeling well. The flu can be contagious for three to four days after a person starts to feel better.

You can keep track of the latest Springfield-Greene County flu numbers by following the link included with this story.