Sickweather app helps Bay area residents prepare for the flu season

By Lauren Verno, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, January 04, 2018, 10:50 AM EST

Cold and flu season is upon us, and health officials said it’s come earlier this year than in the past.

  • Health officials say cold/flu season upon us early
  • Sickweather app tells you which illnesses are trending in area
  • Health Dept. warns apps may not be accurate
  • Sickweather app

As kids get ready to head back to school, parents are already gearing up for what’s likely to come.

“You just expect that they'll get sick, cause schools starting,” said Jennifer Wondel, who is a mother.

More than likely someone you know will get sick this cold and flu season, but an app is trying to forewarn people about illnesses in the area before it makes it into your own home.

The app is called Sickweather. If you type in your location, it will tell you what types of illnesses are trending and where they’re being reported.

"I think it would be good to just kind of be aware of what’s out and around, so you can say oh, my kids have a cough, oh it’s just a cough … or something more serious that you need to be aware of," Wondel said.

But the Florida Health Department said the information put out on apps might not be accurate.

“I think a lot of people may have a respiratory illness and will self-diagnose themselves without going to the doctor," said Carrie Harter, Manatee County Department of Health.

The health department said to get an accurate sense of how many outbreaks we’ve seen this season, go directly to the Florida health website, where they have a breakdown of what counties are seeing the most outbreaks.

Right now Pinellas and Hillsborough counties are seeing some of the highest flu numbers in the state, according to the department.

These apps are not just for the flu — Sickweather also allows you to check for head lice or other illnesses like the chicken pox.

But those using the apps should realize that the app should be your first line of prevention.

As always, the health department said the main defense against getting the flu is washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick and getting the flu shot.