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Missouri flu cases spike; Boone County cases more than double in a week

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior services weekly data released on Friday says Missouri influenza cases are categorized as "very high."

Boone County’s cases have more than doubled in the past week. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported that Boone County influenza numbers went from 96 to 251 cases within the span of a week.

Some hospitals are seeing that increase, Dr. Laura Morris, of MU Health Care, said. An MU Health Care spokesperson said about a dozen people are in the hospital with influenza. 

“We're preparing and expecting to see stronger than a typical flu season,” Morris said. “And so far, it's meeting the expectations. It has started a little earlier than it typically does in some years.”

The rise in influenza cases isn’t just unique to Boone County. Across the state, flu numbers are on the rise. 

The Cole County Health Department reported its influenza numbers rose from 24 to 96 cases. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported a total of 8,256 cases so far in Missouri.

“This is a quicker rise and an earlier onset,” Morris said about this year’s increase. “But we do have historical examples of other early surges in flu seasons. Often that is part of what turns out to be a heavier than normal influenza season.”

Thanksgiving gatherings are most likely to blame for the recent rise she said, but after COVID-19, it’s hard to compare flu numbers from recent years. A mix of pandemic precautions caused influenza cases to drop, but they could be returning to pre-pandemic levels this year.

To stay healthy this season, Morris recommends residents to wash their hands and stay home whenever feeling under the weather. The best way to be protected from the flu though, is to get vaccinated, she said.

“We've been doing this for a couple years,” Morris added. “We've taken care of the flu for decades and it's just kind of buckling in and getting through it.”

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Abby Landwehr

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