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Early spike in flu cases in Southwest Florida, expected to worsen

Posted at 11:39 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 23:39:21-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Flu cases in Southwest Florida have already tripled so far this season compared to last year.

Lee Health has reported almost 200 flu cases so far this flu season, which is more than three times the amount compared to this time last year.

“That's a big increase. This is normally numbers you see in mid-December,” said pharmacist, T.J. DePaola at Cypress Pharmacy in Fort Myers.

According to Florida's Department of Health, the early spike is impacting kids in daycares and schools.

Kings Kidz Academy in North Fort Myers are taking extra precautions to protect kids from the influenza virus.

Director, Danielle Freeman is constantly teaching kids how to wash their hands thoroughly.

“Kids are very hands on, and they pass things very easily onto each other,” said Freeman.

Teachers are also required to wipe down toys and services with bleach and water solution.

“We have a checklist that we go through on a daily basis. We are a licensed facility, so the Department of Children and Families helps us with those regulations,” said Freeman.

They are taking extra measures, especially after seeing an early increase in flu activity.

“This is an unusual spike,” said DePaola. “We thought the highest was about two years ago. This is much higher than it was two years ago.”

DePaola said it’s only going to get worse.

“You have a lot of the snowbirds coming down earlier this year, bringing it with them. Plus, you have that Australian flu that’s making its way over here,” said DePaola.

In the state health department’s latest report, there’s been more flu outbreaks across the state, including Lee and Collier counties.

A majority of those outbreaks were reported in daycares and schools.

To avoid a trip to the emergency room, doctors said the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot.