This flu season could be tough, according to Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams. He tells Missourinet he’s highly encouraging citizens to get a flu shot by the end of this month. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
“While the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) asks us not to predict what we think the flu season is going to be because it can be so variable, we have concerns that this is going to be a tough flu season. My sense is, again knowing that we never can predict accurately, but that we think it’s going to be an early flu season and it will be more like two years ago than last year,” says Williams.
According to state data, Missouri had nearly 134,000 flu cases two years ago. The state recorded 279 influenza-associated deaths. Last year, Missouri had nearly 77,000 flu cases with 92 flu-related deaths.
He does not know if the type A strain will necessarily be the case this time around, like it was two years ago.
“There’s just one that finds a niche and you can never really predict that because it might be the same strain but for that particular reason for whatever year it just becomes more infectious,” he says.
Williams says the level of flu cases is somewhat dependent on the strain and the unique situations of that year.
“For instance, if the weather is warm and more people are outside, then that would tend to decrease the amount of people coming into contact with each other,” Williams says. “But if we have a very cold winter and people are very much coming together, then that’s going to potentiate any type of infectious epidemic.”
Safeguards health officials recommend include:
• 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.
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