Local flu numbers see slight decrease as national flu epidemic continues

WICHITA FALLS - While health officials across the country are saying the widespread flu outbreak doesn't appear to be slowing down. Locally, things are starting to wind down.

Since the end of Jan., the Wichita Falls Health Department says reported cases decreased slightly. However, the fear of the flu this winter may have had an impact on local events that are used to seeing larger crowds.

For decades, the turnout at the Kiwanis Pancake Festival is one that would not disappoint.

"The people just pour in and you just can't get them all through there," festival chairman Dennis Probst said.

Since the event began more than 60 years ago, Probst said they've seen up to 12,000 people, but that turnout was quite different this year.

"This year we had about 7,600, people and it was very unusual." Probst suspects the early flu season is to blame.

"This was by far the lowest turnout we'd ever have and we assumed that a lot of that had to do with the flu. The flu that's going around," Probst said.

"People shouldn't be afraid not to go to events and not to go about their daily activities," director of public health Lou Kreidler said. "They just need to be really cautious when they're out there."

Kreidler says whether or not you're sick, now is the time to be more cautious. Especially when going to large events, she says maintain good hygiene and space.

"Try to stay five to six feet away from them so that you got that social distancing to be sure and practice good hand washing techniques."

The good news- Kreidler says they've seen a slight fall in the amount of flu-like illnesses that have been reported to the health district. 

From a peak of 90 near the end of Jan. to the mid 60's within the last week, she says the numbers could be trending in the right direction.

"That's a good sign that we may start to see a decrease in our community of influenza virus," Kreidler said.

Kreidler is still urging anyone that hasn't gotten the flu shot to get vaccinated. The health department has already distributed 976 doses of the flu shot since the season started.

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