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Visitors bring different flu strains to Southwest Florida

Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 07:39:19-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Flu activity continues to rise across the United States. A new map from the Centers for Disease Control shows half the country reporting high influenza levels.

Florida is still at a moderate level but that could get much higher.

A local pharmacist said with more and more people visiting the area, they could be bringing different flu strains that can put you and your family at risk.

This time of year, thousands of people are traveling to Southwest Florida but it’s not just their luggage they are carrying.

When they are coming from all around the country, they are bringing different strains of flu,” said pharmacist, T.J. DePaola.

DePaola owns Cypress Pharmacy in Fort Myers. He says flu season is not as bad as last year but it’s still prevalent. “We still have quite of bit of season left so there’s a potential to bring a lot of flu down here,” said DePaola.

He said visitors can make matters worse. “The flu is very very easy to catch,” said DePaola.

“I have a lot of grand kids. I must have caught something from the grandkids and brought it down here,” said Mike Sullivan.

Sullivan is a snowbird from Buffalo, New York. He said he got the flu as soon as he got down to Florida from New York in January. “It would not go away, I kept coughing and hacking. It was a tough strain,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan was at Southwest Florida International Airport Tuesday dropping off one of his 16 grandkids. He said people should be more careful to prevent getting sick.

“You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. I mean it’s really dangerous,”said Sullivan. “Nobody covers up when they are coughing and hacking.”

DePaola said if you get the flu, you have a 72 hour window to treat it.

Doctors said the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu shot. However, it only protects you from certain strains.