Children between the ages of 5 to 14 have been the target of a late season flu outbreak in Franklin County with 106 new cases reported in that age group last week.
Adding to that, 170 new cases in other ages groups last week bring the overall county total to 740.
Health officials aren’t sure if the recent uptick will subside or if the flu numbers may rise even higher in coming weeks.
In Franklin County, the flu has been slow to take hold, unlike last year at this time when cases numbered in the thousands and hundreds of new cases were reported weekly.
In fact, until the week of Jan. 27, the highest number of reported cases all flu season was 17.
That week, flu reports jumped to 58 and the following week cases were even higher at 116, but then dropped to 89 reported cases by Feb. 10.
The drop didn’t hold and seven days later the highest report thus far of 274 cases was recorded.
Children ages 5 to 14 account for 32 percent of the countywide total with 237 total cases.
The next highest age group is adults age 25 to 49 with 144 cases, or 19.5 percent.
The only other age group in double digits is adults 50 to 64 with 112 cases, making up 15 percent of the total.
The youngest Franklin County residents — ages zero to 4 — make up 16.3 percent of the cases in the county with a combined total of 121 flu cases.
Rounding out the county age groups are seniors 65-plus with 65 cases and young adults ages 15 to 24 who have the lowest reports of flu cases at 61.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), 3,986 new influenza cases were reported statewide last week, bringing the season-to-date total to 24,694.
The same week in 2018, there were 103,631 laboratory-positive influenza cases reported in Missouri and 162 influenza-associated deaths.
Despite the much lower numbers, thus far in the 2019 flu season, there have still been 14 flu-related deaths statewide.
The unofficial flu season, when cases are recorded, begins in September and runs until April.
Even with the increase in recent weeks, without a severe outbreak the overall flu cases for the county will not get anywhere near last year’s totals, which were record-breaking.
Christmas Eve 2017 marked the full attack of the flu virus on residents of Franklin County and officials feared cases could reach as high as 3,000.
Flu cases spiked sharply in Franklin County in the week between Christmas and New Year’s and continued to rise throughout the winter.
More than 230 cases were reported in that week alone.
In the two weeks between Dec. 17 and 24 the cases skyrocketed from three to 99 cases.
At that time the type A strain was more prevalent with 336 of the total cases. Only 48 of the reported flu cases were type B and they were predominantly in the age 50 to 64 range.
Last year there were 2,909 flu cases reported in Franklin County, which far surpassed the record-breaking 2016-2017 season of 1,664 cases.
According to numbers from the Franklin County Health Department, the first three cases of the 2017-18 flu season were reported the week of Sept. 17, 2017.
There was a lull in cases with only 35 cases reported between mid-September and Dec. 3. The next week, 21 cases were reported and then the virus took hold.
Just one week later, Dec. 17, 2017, the new cases jumped to 154, and then 253 through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The highest week of reported cases came as 2017 closed out the week of Dec. 31, with 401.