Early Flu Season

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Thirty-five to 40 cases of the flu have been reported in Dale County.

This comes months before the normal flu season, and months before vaccinations arrive.

Normally, the virus comes in the cooler months and doctors say it's mostly found in children.

The normal flu season begins in November, but doctors are saying it has already struck in some areas.

“In fact, the first flu cases came in late August,” said Emergency Medical Doctor, Dr. Carl Barlow. “Since then, we've probably had 35-40 cases of the flu that we've diagnosed with the flu test, and have been positive. A lot of them have been in children."

Doctors say there are some ways to help reduce the spread of the virus.

One way is to sneeze or cough into your elbow instead of your hand, because it makes less contact throughout the day.

Doctors also say one of the main ways to reduce the spread of the flu is by washing your hands, but it's important how you wash them. They suggest using a lot of friction and be sure you clean both sides of the hands, and underneath your fingernails. It's not necessary to rinse in scalding hot water. Then, dry with a paper towel that's already down. Use that paper towel to cut off the water.

Doctors say these few steps will go a long way in helping reduce the spread of the flu.

Since many of the flu cases have been found in children, Ozark School officials have sent their annual health precautions letter a little early, to help combat the spread.

In that letter, officials encourage parents to review with children the basics of good hygiene and health care.

Superintendent, Dr. Dan Payant of Ozark City Schools says, “We want to remind parents to not send their children to school if they're experiencing those types of symptoms: coughing, sore throat, fever. Keep them at home till they get healthy."

Both doctors and school leaders say if you have symptoms of the flu, the most important thing is to stay home.

The flu cases in Ozark are being double checked by state health leaders to make sure it is in fact the influenza virus.

No flu vaccinations are available at this time. Doctors expect them to arrive closer to October.