Cold and flu season spiking early, hitting hard in Kansas City metro

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- If it seems like an unusually high number of your friends, family and coworkers are falling victim to cold and flu viruses this holiday season, local doctors say that tracks with what they’re seeing as well.

“Overall, across the nation, flu activity seems to be higher currently than it has been at this time in the last couple years,” said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Kansas Health System.

Hawkinson said it’s been years since there’s been such an early spike in patients reporting flu and flu-like symptoms.

“It’s comparable to 2014-15, as far as the early influenza activity or cold virus activity,” he said.

Hawkinson said it’s not too late to get a flu shot and recommends diligent hand-washing and overall hand hygiene as the best defense against a case of the sniffles.

“Be careful not to put your hands in your eyes, nose and mouth, especially if you’re in public places,” Hawkinson said.

Amy Tillotson, a dietician in Kansas City, went home sick with a cold on Monday.

Her coworkers weren’t surprised.

“Yeah, they were pretty much like, ‘It’s going around,'" Tillotson said.

Even Chiefs Head Coach Any Reid said the bug is sweeping his locker room, yet another reason he’s grateful for a first-round bye in the year’s NFL playoffs.

“We got a little bit of the cold and flu stuff going to our team right now,” Reid said Monday. “So we’ll be able to get rid of that and get back fresh, come Thursday.”

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