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Cole County flu numbers up by nearly 600% when compared to last year

Cole County flu numbers are up by nearly 600% when compared to the same time last year.

Officials said Cole County had seen 433 cases of Influenza A and 39 cases of Influenza B through Dec. 30, 2017. During the same time frame last year, there were only 62 reports of Influenza A and four reports of Influenza B.

“I think one of the big reasons is that the flu vaccine is not thought to be as protective,” Dr. Tara Flynn, director of Mizzou Urgent Care, said. “Usually you think about it being 40 to 50 percent protective, but this year maybe the estimates are 10 to 30 percent protective.”

“I think it’s just hit pretty early, and then just predictably as people get together over Thanksgiving and then again over Christmas, we just have a lot more sharing of germs and touching of the same surfaces,” Flynn explained, adding that the increase isn’t alarming.

Statewide, there were 4,862 influenza cases reported during the week of Dec. 24-30. Season-to-date, there have been 17,182 cases in Missouri and 499 deaths.

While there has been an increase in cases, Flynn said a number of those cases have been mild.

“I think in general, a lot of people are getting the flu but there’s also milder cases of the flu that we’re seeing as well,” she said.

In Boone County, there were 144 cases reported during the week of Dec. 17-23. For the first part of the 2017-2018 season (Oct. 1 – Dec. 23), there have been 384 cases reported.

Flynn said the cold weather isn’t helping, either.

“When we have such cold weather and people are staying inside we have so much more of, again, touching the same surfaces. Flu can exist for a while on a surface and if one person coughs, then another person touches it, there you have it,” she said.

Flynn also said it’s not too late to get a flu shot: “[Influenza] A is hitting really hard now, but [Influenza] B could hit people, so that’s another reason to get a flu shot.”

“Avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly and try not to touch your face,” she said, adding, “Just try to be as conscious as you can to stay home when you have a fever.”

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