Where’s the flu?

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The flu is a winter visitor that no one wants to host. So far this season, we haven't had to. There have been remarkably few cases compared to last.

At Olathe Family Practice, empty chairs in the waiting room tell you something about this flu season.

"Since Thanksgiving, I have had perhaps one or two positives in my entire practice," Dr. David Karty said.

Dr. Karty says that compares to two or more a day last season. He is seeing patients with upper respiratory infections, bronchitis and sinus trouble. The latter is what Rob Hubbard has.

"I have had a consistent, just persistent headache," Hubbard said.

But not from the flu. It's the same on the Missouri side. Last season, Kansas City, Missouri, had reports of 2,893 flu cases by this time. This season, it has just 42.

But don't think the flu is going to fly over us. A disease investigator says it may be more like 2012 when it didn't hit until February.

"It's really not uncommon for the flu season to just be starting in January or February. It's just the last couple of years it started in November and December. So we're just waiting. I haven't ever seen a year without flu," said Lisa Mertz of the Kansas City Health Department.

Both Mertz and Dr. Karty point to the vaccine, too, as a factor in this year's low numbers.

"I believe this year we have a good quality, effective vaccine," said Dr. Karty.

That's unlike last season when it was just 20 percent effective. The doctor also thinks more people are getting armed against the flu.

"It'll be interesting to see if it makes up for lost time, which it does sometimes," said Hubbard.

He hasn't had his shot yet, but says he will as soon as he's over the sinus infection.

After getting the shot, it takes about two weeks to build up the protection in your body. For prevention, The Kansas City Health Department also emphasizes frequent handwashing and not touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

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