Missouri Flu Season is the Worst in Years; St. Louis Area Hardest Hit

Flu Cases Rise 2,000 Percent Higher Than Normal

Yahoo Contributor Network

Flu season in Missouri is off to a soaring start. According to a KMOX piece posted Tuesday, cases in St. Charles County (Mo.) have doubled the current seasonal count in just a week. The St. Louis area is the largest population center of the state. As such, cases of the flu rose sharply across the region as annual flu season has already been deemed the worst "in nearly a decade" by the media outlet.

* St. Charles County has had 226 cases of the flu since the beginning of October. Most of the cases have been in children under the age of 15. Cases for the days at the end of November are higher than the previous five years, although the 2009-2010 flu season was worse overall in terms of cumulative cases in the county.

* St. Louis County numbers are even higher than St. Charles County. To date, 701 cases of influenza have been reported, with 217 of those in the week ending Nov. 25. Most cases have been in children. Influenza Type B is listed as "intense" on a graph with more than 200 cases in the latest week of the county report. That number is greater than the previous four years to date combined for the same statistical week.

* Sales of over-the-counter medications to fight the flu have steadily risen in St. Louis County since early September. Around 750 units were sold at participating pharmacies Sept. 1. The latest report was close to 1,000 units sold in a week. In early October and the end of November, alerts were posted when supplies dwindled. On average, 877 units of medications have been sold this flu season for the county.

* Overall, 451 cases of the flu have been reported statewide for the week ending Nov. 24. To date, Missouri has had 2,088 influenza cases across the state. The number is 880 percent higher than the five-year median of 213 cases. For Type B influenza, the cases are more than 2,250 percent above the median.

* Most of Missouri's cases are in the eastern part of the state with 1,178 instances of the flu. That number is more than the other four regions combined. Across Missouri, 1,530 doctors visits have been made regarding flu-like symptoms thus far in the 2012-2013 season. That total comes from a handful of Missouri's 114 counties including Jackson, Greene and Gasconade.

* The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services recommends everyone over the age of 6 months receive a seasonal flu shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals the peak of flu season is January or later even though outbreaks occur as early as October.

William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.

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