Number of flu cases down in rural Missouri; Experts say cases will begin to increase

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 10:37 PM CST
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Since the state began tracking flu cases last October, more than 11,000 people have tested positive - with most coming down with Influenza B.

The administrator at the Howell County Health Department says Howell County has been 'fortunate' this flu-season. That seems to be the case in many surrounding counties. While overall numbers are down right now, compared to years past, health officials say the low numbers won't last long.

"It's probably a safe assumption that this year's vaccine is a better match than in year's past," Howell County Health Department Administrator Chris Gilliam said.

In Howell County, 52 people have tested positive for the virus.

Two-thirds of those cases have been Influenza B.

"Last year there was more of a prevalence of Influenza A. Cases this year are more heavily leaning towards Influenza B cases," Gilliam told KY3.

Texas County has reported 26 influenza cases, with most coming back positive for the A strain.

Officials tell KY3, that half of the county's cases have been reported in the past two weeks.

Over in Oregon County, only 9 cases of flu have been laboratory confirmed.

Five of the nine were Influenza B.

In Howell County, two age groups have been hit the hardest.

"64 years and older, we have been hard hit. The next leading group is 15 to 24-year-olds," Gilliam explained.

Besides a better vaccine, weather could be a reason for low numbers.

"We have been fortunate in our weather, Gilliam exclaimed. The southern part of the state has been milder than other areas of course. We have seen that the impact of that has been shown through the numbers we are seeing in the northwest part of the state."

At West Vue Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which 90 residents call home, there have been zero cases of the flu.

Administrator Rachel Judd credits dedicated nursing and janitorial staff and the flu vaccine for the healthy last few months.

"Well we asses them when they come in. We ask them if they've been immunized, Judd said. We have a nurse that is radical about it and she is on top of it on every admission we get. Plus, in the fall we give all our current residents the option of having the flu vaccine.

Health experts expect busier clinics and hospitals in the coming weeks.

"The rates will be ramping up. It's not unusual to see cases start to go up this time of year," Gilliam said.

It's not too late to still get your flu shot. Shots are available for free at most health departments.

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