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FLU UPDATE: Don’t Blame The Cold Weather

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Winter weather is often blamed for slips and falls, traffic accidents, and for getting people sick.

"I think when the weather changes, I think people tend to come down with flu like symptoms," said Milton Anania, a Des Moines resident.

According to Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, the first two accusations are fair, but the third is not. At least not directly.

"I see this all the time. They say Uncle Joe was out in the woods hunting and then he got pneumonia. The cold must have caused the pneumonia, and that's not true," said Quinlisk.

Dr. Quinlisk agrees that cold weather does force people indoors which can lead to illness spreading more easily, but simply being cold isn't what is forcing people into doctor's clinics.

"The thing the cold or dry air can do is make your mucus membranes more susceptible," Quinlisk told Channel 13 News.

The most recent report shows fewer people are going to the doctor with flu like symptoms.

Flu related hospital visits are down nearly 50% from last week.

Quinlisk says we're not out of the woods just yet as more schools are reporting more than 10% of their students out with the flu.

"It's very common for it to get into schools," said Quinlisk.