Flu ‘running rampant' in Jackson County, health officials say - KCTV5 News

Flu ‘running rampant' in Jackson County, health officials say

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Jackson County health officials say the flu is ‘running rampant.’ (Graphicstock) Jackson County health officials say the flu is ‘running rampant.’ (Graphicstock)

Jackson County health officials say the flu is ‘running rampant.’

More than 2,500 cases have been reported so far this flu season, just in the one county. That's nearly three times as many cases, and doctors are saying we may not have reached the peak just yet.

This week alone, 607 people were diagnosed with the disease. That's the second most active week for the flu in the last five years, and we're technically only about halfway through the flu season.

In Independence, doctors have seen the number of flu cases go from 173 on Jan. 13 of last year to 519 on Jan. 13 of this year. In KC, it was 300 last year and closer to 900 this year.

Updated figures from the smart thermometer company Kinsa show Missouri and Kansas both remain above the national average for flu cases. The thermometers connect to a smartphone and track symptoms like fever. 

It estimates 4.7 percent of people in Missouri have the flu and, in Kansas, 4.5 percent. Both are among the highest rates in the county. 

"It's difficult to predict what will happen with the curve of influenza," said a professor of pediatrics in St. Louis."We certainly are seeing a high peak right now and we don't know if we're going to be on the way down from that in terms of the number of cases or if it's going to continue to be transmitted at a high level."

One of the big reasons doctors say we've seen an increase is because, firstly, it's been a nasty flu season and, secondly, this year's flu vaccine is thought to be only 30 percent effective, which is a lower efficacy rate than seen in previous years.

For now, doctors are asking that you visit your primary physician instead of the emergency room unless you have severe symptoms or another underlying health condition.

"Mostly, the flu is going to figure itself out at home," said Emily Hillman, MD with Truman Medical Center. "Reasons to come to the emergency room for the flu would be severe trouble breathing, inability to tolerate fluids or liquids to where you're not peeing a normal amount."

The American Lung Association is urging Americans to take precautions to avoid spreading the flu. There are a number of ways people can protect themselves and others. They include:

  • Get a flu shot. Even though this year's vaccine isn't a perfect match for the viruses in circulation, it's still the best way to protect against infection. And some protection is better than none. Flu season may not end until May. The flu shot will remain effective for roughly six months. Anyone 6 months or older who still hasn't been immunized should get a flu shot.
  • Seek medical attention. People who develop flu-like symptoms should see a doctor right away. Antiviral medications can help ease the effects of the virus, but these drugs are most effective if taken within 48 hours of getting sick. Warning signs of the flu include: high fever, headache, joint or muscle pain, cough, chills, sore throat, congestion and fatigue.
  • Don't spread the misery. If you get the flu, take steps to prevent passing the infection onto others. Sick people should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Hands should be washed frequently. People should avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth, particularly if their hands aren't clean. Be sure to disinfect possibly contaminated surfaces and objects. Anyone with the flu should stay home and not go to work or school for about a week. Once flu symptoms appear, people are contagious for five to seven days.

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