Influx of Florida's winter residents could increase number of flu cases

HILLSBOROUH COUNTY, Fla. - Health experts warn Floridians, don’t be fooled by the sunshine. We’re just entering the start of flu season.

While the number of cases remain low in most parts of the state, that could change quickly, said Steve Huard, spokesman at the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.

“How fast can that change?" Huard said. "Next week I can show you a map that’s all red and orange."

The colors indicate flu hotspots in the county.

Huard suggested snowbirds, Florida's winter residents, could also be to blame.

“They’ll be bringing whatever they have in whatever city they live in and giving you the opportunity to get it here," Huard said.

More people mean greater chances of spreading illnesses. A reality people who we spoke to hadn’t considered.

“I think that’s very interesting. I think logically it does make sense," Luke Filloramo said.

The germ concern doesn’t end there.

“And the other part of that is that most of the snowbirds are older folks," Huard said.

During flu season, the elderly, pregnant women and young people are the most vulnerable to catch a virus.

“It could be a potential life killer," Huard added.

Besides getting a flu shot, there are a few other basic steps you can take to prevent the spread of germs:

  • Do not allow a sick relative go to work or school.
  • Prevent spreading germs by coughing into the crook of your arm rather than use your hands.
  • And always wash your hands and do it often.

“We have the beautiful weather and beaches," Huard said, "Who wants to get sick? I’d rather get the shot and move on with my life.”

Huard encouraged people to get a flu shot before the end of the year.

It tends to take two weeks for the shot to work, so now would be an ideal time, he added.

To find where to get a flu shot near you, click here

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