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Effects of warm weather on flu season

Posted at 6:05 PM, Feb 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-05 21:48:47-05

The coughing, sneezing, fever, and body ache -- you know when you've got the flu.

In Maricopa County alone, there are almost 10,000 confirmed cases. With those numbers, it's taking a toll on the workforce.

Commonwealth Casualty in Phoenix has about 90 employees. A lot of them sick have been sick with the flu.

"On the height of our times, we were missing 10-15 people per-day," said Yara Patino, the Director of Operations at the insurance company.

It was hitting the company so hard; they're even passing out hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, and Emergen-C. They're even easing up on the sick time policy so employees can take more time off to recover without getting penalized.

With so many people out sick, it did take a toll.

"Our answer rate, we have a percentage that we're supposed to maintain, and it took a little bit of dive," said Patino.

The number of flu cases this year is surprising to some doctors.

"It's been horrendous this season," said Doctor Natasha Bhuyan with One Medical Group.

Bhuyan says the flu season normally peaks in mid-February in Arizona. So does it have anything to do with the warm weather? Although it seems to coincide, the doctor says it doesn't. 

"I think in the warm weather, the flu doesn't do as well actually," said Dr. Bhuyan. "So we know that in the warm weather there are actually fewer deaths from the flu and pneumonia."

The doctor says the outer protective layer of the virus actually does better in the cold.

One thing that climate doesn't have an impact on, prevention. Doctors say it's still the flu shot and keeping your hands clean.