Sneezing, coughing, hacking, sniffling.
It’s flu season.
And although the season is later and not nearly as severe as it has been over the past couple of years, it’s being felt throughout Central Missouri.
Data on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website show this year’s flu outbreak was widespread across the United States for the week ending Feb. 16 — the seventh week of the official flu season.
Also, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed 3,986 cases of Influenza A and 163 cases of Influenza B during the seventh week. (Influenza B can only be carried and spread by humans, while A can be carried and spread by animals). Symptoms of the strains are similar.
In Cole County, of 159 cases confirmed through laboratory testing all season, 93 were Influenza A, 63 were Influenza B and three were undetermined strains.
Jaime Young, Cole County communicable disease nurse, said data from Week 7 of the flu season reflects a significant jump in flu cases for the season, week over week.
“My numbers have doubled,” Young said. “But overall, the numbers are still low.”
In Week 6, 23 flu cases were reported in Cole County. For Week 7, there were 57 cases reported.
“Last year’s flu season, which was uncharacteristic, had a huge peak in the middle of January,” Young said. “That was the craziest year.”
There were weeks in January 2018 when hundreds of cases were confirmed. This year has been more typical, she said. It’s been a steady spread.
“For those who haven’t gotten the vaccine, it’s not too late. That’s still the best protection against flu,” Young said. “It not only helps you, but helps the people around you.”
Cases this year appear to be affecting mostly children ages 5-14 and adults 25-49, she said.
As of Week 6 this year, 14 people in Missouri had died from the flu, according to the DHSS website. Five influenza-related school closures had been reported in the state.
There are ways to help prevent the spread of the flu, Young said.
“Good hand-washing. Good cough etiquette. If you are sick, don’t go to work,” she advised. “Go to the doctor in case you need some anti-viral medications.”