Is influenza influenced by the weather?

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It's's's sunny.

Just 2 weeks ago, we were digging ourselves out of the first-ever recorded blizzard in this area.

Middle 60s were reported Sunday.

Is it coincidence that Arkansas is among the 47 states reporting widespread flu cases?

Is there a link between this wild weather and the severity of this influenza season?

Doctor Speights says yes and no--the weather is more of an indirect cause.

"Just because it's cold, wet and rainy outside, and now all of a sudden it's 70 degrees, that in of itself does not cause you to be sick. Now, could those fluctuations in the weather, you know, when it gets warm and then it gets cold, then back and forth, could that cause you to get a little bit of a runny nose, maybe a little bit of a sore throat? Yes, it could cause that."

Influenza spreads like wildfire are people are driven indoors during cold weather.

The flu is especially dangerous because you can still spread the virus for awhile, several days after you've been sick.

"You can get infected and share the virus for 36 hours or so, before you even know you're sick. So now you're passing it along to people and you don't even know you're sick."

Speights says to see your doctor within 48 hours of your first symptoms.

It's not too late to get a flu shot, which has been shown to be 62% effective against current strains.

"If you haven't gotten your vaccine, get it and get it now."

Influenza facts and tips from the Department of Health and Human Services can be found here.

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