Missouri is experiencing a dramatic spike in the number of flu cases reported. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says more than 1,500 cases have been reported, compared to nearly 400 during the same time last year. The department says the figures could indicate that flu season is coming early to the Show-Me State or that it will be particularly severe—as was seen in the southern hemisphere where flu season precedes ours.
“We know that historically, the intensity or prevalence of flu can vary from year to year. But this year, all indications are that we are seeing more flu earlier in the year and we anticipate more cases,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “Now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven’t already. The flu shot combined with proper handwashing are the two most effective things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.”
For 2016-2017, there were more than 70,000 confirmed influenza cases in Missouri. If these trends continue, the state could have even more during the 2017-2018 season.
The department says a flu vaccine is the best form of defense to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full protective abilities.
In addition to getting your flu shot, other preventative steps should be taken:
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after touching shared objects or surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, remote controls, shopping counters, debit card readers, etc. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.
• Stay home while you’re sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Medical officials want Missourians to be extra cautious around the holidays. Plenty of germs are spread when getting together with family and friends to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.