Influenza activity increasing locally and worldwide

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COLUMBIA – Influenza activity recently increased locally, statewide and nationally.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported a season-to-date total of 9,338 confirmed cases of influenza as of Jan. 21, nearly 10 times the amount of cases at this time last year.

The virus was considered “widespread” in Missouri, meaning outbreaks of influenza or an increase in influenza-like illness cases in at least half of the regions in the state.

The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services has recently seen similar trends. Eric Stann, community relations manager, said the department has seen an increase in flu cases.

Three hundred forty nine cases have been reported in Boone County since Sept. 2016. Stann said the number of cases is higher than average.

He said the department typically sees an increase in cases this time of year, and there is not a specific reason behind it.

Stann said since influenza is contagious, it is important for people to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and stay home if they are sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone with influenza might be contagious before symptoms develop, and five to seven days after becoming sick.

Marsha Broadus, a registered nurse at the Howard County Health Department, said the flu is also trending in Howard County.

Broadus said the best way to prevent the disease is to receive the flu vaccine and wash hands.

The Boone County Health Department also recommends the vaccine. “People can still get the flu even if they’ve had the flu shot, but typically if that does happen it’s a much milder case,” Stann said.

The vaccine is still available to those who have not received it this season.