The number of flu cases continues to rise in mid-Missouri and across the state, and for one age group, the number is 3,000 times greater than last year. Medical experts say the number of people catching the flu increases after travel excursions, and they say cases are growing rapidly among children of all ages. “We are seeing it mostly in the children — in the school ages, and preschool, and also in the 0-1 age group — which is kind of surprising,” Doctor Eric Bettis, of Broadway Urgent Care said. Doctors say the flu is hitting kids ages 5 to 14 more than others. 212 cases have been reported to the Columbia-Boone County Health Department within that age group since November 18. That is half of all the fly cases reported across the entire age spectrum. Medical experts think they can explain what they call a spike in cases. “Flu season kind of come on and start in early November, and goes into May, and then spikes when people travel. So Thanksgiving holidays, lots of people travel, so we still have a spike that is coming up now,” Bettis said. Doctors say children have a weaker immune system, making them more susceptible to catching the flu from another child. Bettis said, “it’s in the school age population right now, and so close contact is always there.” Boone County is already seeing ten times the number of cases compared to last year, and the peak of flu season does not hit until January. The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting a flu shot to prevent the flu from further spreading. Flu season ends in May, and vaccinations are still available as of late November in Boone County.
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