Despite three flu-related deaths being reported in Missouri this season, the total cases in Franklin County remain very low.
Public Health Supervisor Tony Buel said as of Friday there had been only 39 cases reported to the county health department.
“Overall, activity in Missouri and surrounding states is low or minimal,” he said. “It’s definitely coming, it’s just a matter of time.”
Buel added flu cases are beginning to increase in the southern states.
Although there is no way to accurately predict the severity of the flu season each year, judging by the numbers thus far, Buel estimates it will be an average season with possibly 1,300 to 1,400 cases when all is said and done next fall.
Health department nurse Donna Vandegriffe says her office has administered 453 flu vaccines so far this year.
“We usually give the first vaccines in August, but it was about three weeks later this year because the formula was changed and manufacturers were backed up,” Vandegriffe explained. “Last year at this time we had given out 680 vaccines already.”
She added the number of vaccines administered tends to rise and fall each year depending on how severe the previous flu season was.
For example, in 2018, after the record-setting season in 2017, a total of 805 vaccines were given at the health department.
Most of the flu case numbers are reported to the county on Mondays by hospital emergency rooms in Washington and Sullivan and doctor’s offices when patients test positive for the influenza strain.
On Monday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the total number of influenza cases in Missouri has surpassed the 2,200 mark and a total of 485 new cases were reported statewide during the week ending Dec. 7.
This time last year, a total of 2,569 laboratory-positive influenza cases had been reported and 459 new influenza cases were reported the week of Dec. 15.
Buel explained although cases trickle in throughout the year, the official flu season runs between September and April.
Throughout the 30-week season, the overall average of 57 cases per week is deceiving considering there were some weeks early on when no cases were reported and others when the counts were in the single digits.
Last year, during that 8-month period, 1,733 flu cases were reported in Franklin County, which is 1,176 fewer cases than the 2,909 total for the 2017-18 flu season.
The hardest hit age group last season was children ages 5 to 14 with 574 cases, making up one-third of the overall county totals.
The second highest number of cases was in adults ages 25 to 49. That group reported 317 cases and made up 18 percent of the season total.
Older adults, ages 50 to 64, recorded 13 percent of the county totals with 238 cases this season.
There were 190 cases in children ages 2 to 4, making up 11 percent, and 169 cases in seniors ages 65 and up, comprising just under 10 percent.
There were 143 flu cases reported in the 15 to 24 age range, making up 8 percent of the county’s totals.
The lowest number of flu cases of any age range last season was children ages zero to 2 with 102 cases rounding out slightly under 6 percent for the season.
Groups of people at high risk for flu-related complications include children age 5 and under, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
If you have symptoms of the flu and are in a high risk group, or have questions or concerns, contact your primary health care provider.