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Flu season may not have peaked in Cole County

Flu season may not have peaked in Cole County

March 18th, 2019 by Joe Gamm in News

In an effort to show students how painless it is to receive a flu shot, Missouri Department of Health Director Randall Williams receives a shot from Jaime Young, RN, from the Cole County Health Department, in September 2018 at South Elementary School.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

The flu remains widespread in Missouri, affecting all age groups.

However, in Cole County, if not elsewhere, the younger crowd is the most common of patients, said Jaime Young, the county's communicable disease nurse.

"The age group that continues to have the highest reported cases for us in Cole County are those 5-14 years of age," she said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show this year's flu outbreak was widespread for the week ending March 9, the 10th week of the official flu season.

In Missouri, the state Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed 5,244 cases of Influenza A and 238 cases of Influenza B during the week.

That data shows a slight rise in the number of flu cases for the state over the previous week.

However, the number of people testing positive for flu virus nationally was lower than the previous week, according to the CDC.

During week eight of the season, the CDC listed every state in the contiguous United States as having widespread flu outbreaks. During week nine, Vermont had been downgraded to having only regional outbreaks.

For week 10, Tennessee and Texas also were downgraded.

"Forecasts continue to indicate a 90 percent chance the flu season peaked nationally in mid- to late February, though there may be some variations in the timing of influenza in different parts of the country," according to the CDC. "Flu activity is expected to remain elevated through the end of March."

That peak has apparently not happened in Cole County — or Missouri — yet.

Cole County has received laboratory-verified reports of 553 cases of Influenza A and 86 cases of Influenza B, Young said.

"As far as the reports we have received the last several weeks, each week's totals continue to be higher than the previous week, so I certainly cannot say that we have seen a 'peak' or decline in cases just yet," Young said. "We have seen a weekly increase in influenza cases over the past six consecutive weeks."

The Cole County Health Department continues to encourage people to receive flu vaccines if they haven't this season.

As of week 10, there have been 29 influenza-associated deaths in Missouri, but there had been a total of 1,201 pneumonia deaths associated with influenza.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced last week that it would recommend to families that they vaccinate their children during the next flu season using the shot or the nasal spray vaccine, according to an academy news release.

The recommendation differs slightly from last two seasons in that the academy had recommended an injection vaccine over the nasal spray, based on questions about the nasal spray's effectiveness.

Vaccine effectiveness can vary from one season to the next, the academy noted.