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Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director, received his flu shot on Sept. 18 at the Cole County Health Department. Missourians, especially those in high risk groups, are recommended to receive a flu vaccination by the end of October.

While it may not be a comfort to anyone feeling under the weather, Pettis County residents are not facing a significant increase in the number of cases of the flu, according to Pettis County Health Center Administrator JoAnn Martin.

“A lot of people will call a GI upset the flu,” Martin said. “There has been a GI virus and an upper respiratory infection with a prolonged cough that has been going around, but nothing unusual that we have seen.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports, “Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly.” The flu often presents some or all of these symptoms:

• Fever or feeling feverish/chills, although not everyone with flu will have a fever

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (tiredness)

• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children

Individuals with these symptoms should contact their health care provider especially if symptoms persist.

According to the CDC, “most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.”

While Martin has not seen any new numbers on the number of cases of the flu reported nationwide for this season, in 2018 a CDC study looked at the percentage of the U.S. population who were sickened by the flu using two different methods and compared the findings. Both methods had similar findings, which suggested that on average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu each season, with a range of between 3% and 11%, depending on the season.

Martin added that the CDC recommends early immunization but that any time is still good.

The same study found, “children are most likely to get sick from the flu and that people 65 and older are least likely to get sick from influenza. Median incidence values (or attack rate) by age group were 9.3% for children 0-17 years, 8.8% for adults 18-64 years, and 3.9% for adults 65 years and older. This means that children younger than 18 are more than twice as likely to develop a symptomatic flu infection than adults 65 and older.”

Martin commented she is aware of cases of mumps reported in Columbia.  

Boone County Public Health and Human Services identified fewer than 10 cases of mumps in Boone County late last week.

The symptoms of mumps are similar to the flu except they often typically appear 16-18 days after infection, according to the CDC.

“Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks and tender, swollen jaw that it causes,” the CDC states. “This is a result of swollen salivary glands under the ears on one or both sides, often referred to as parotitis.”

Other symptoms that might begin a few days before parotitis include:

• Fever

• Headache

• Muscle aches

• Tiredness

• Loss of appetite

The CDC states, “Some people who get mumps have very mild symptoms (like a cold), or no symptoms at all and may not know they have the disease. Most people with mumps recover completely within two weeks.”

According to the CDC, having two doses of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations is the best way to prevent the spread of mumps.

To make an appointment for vaccinations, contact the Health Center at 660-827-1130.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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