Health officials report record high flu cases this year - KOAM TV 7

Health officials report record high flu cases this year

Health officials report a record high for flu cases this year.

More than 34,000 flu cases have been reported in the state of Missouri this flu season.

Officials at the Joplin Health Department say the flu is taking a harder toll this year locally too, especially on nursing homes in the area.

Baxter Springs resident Bud Johnson never got his flu shot.

"I had one once and I thought I was going to die, so I haven't had one since," Johnson said.

However, he is taking other measures to keep the flu away.

"I wash my hands every 5 minutes it seems like," Johnson said.

And he is not alone.

"I do a lot of hand washing and also I've been taking some extra Vitamin C," said Lois Johnson, Joplin resident.

"Lots of prayer," said Lindy Mehner, Joplin resident.

Staff members at Spring River Christian Village say around 20 of their residents have had confirmed flu cases.

"We step up the cleaning in those areas, make sure they're isolated through that fever stage," said Stacie Rowland, Community Nurse Liaison at Spring River Christian Village. "We don't want it to spread throughout the whole building."

Rowland says the flu has hit them harder this year than ever before.

Two of their residents have died from flu complications in the past month.

"Both of those ended up with respiratory issues," Rowland said.

Joplin Health Department officials say this year's flu vaccination has not been as effective in treating certain strains of the virus.

"Type A is still the most significant type of flu that's being seen this year," said Dan Pekarek, director of the Joplin Health Department.  "The flu shot, while it's not a complete match, it still helps you to prevent the flu or at least lessen the effects on you."

Pekarek says those who are elderly and living in a community environment are highly at risk.

"If you're sick, don't go visit, because you're just bringing it into that environment," he said.  "Once it gets started, it's very hard to get it stopped."

"Other people need to consider other people, really that's the whole thing," Mehner said.

Those who have avoided the virus so far hope to stay in good health.

"We're hoping that we can just get by with no more flu," Rowland said.

"I sure hope I don't get it," Johnson said.

Health department officials say flu symptoms begin to show anywhere between one and seven days after exposure, and use of an antiviral drug is recommended if symptoms last for more than 48 hours.
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