Missouri Reports Season's First Lab-Confirmed Flu Case
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today announced the first laboratory-confirmed influenza case of the 2008-09 winter season, according to Margaret Donnelly, DHSS director. Two cases of influenza B from eastern Missouri were recently confirmed by Missouri's State Public Health Laboratory. Though DHSS has received nearly 500 reports of influenza from across the state, the first case to be confirmed by viral culture officially kicks off what DHSS considers the flu season each year.
"We want to remind Missourians, especially those who are considered high risk for influenza complications, and those who have close contact with people at high risk, that receiving flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the virus. And, since Missouri's flu season typically does not peak until later in the winter, it is not too late to get a flu shot and be protected," said Donnelly. "People should consult their health care providers or their local public health agency to locate influenza vaccine."
Manufacturers have supplied more than 140 million doses of flu vaccine in the United States this season, more than in any other season. Persons who should be especially concerned about the influenza virus and its complications and should be vaccinated are:
* All children aged 6 months to 18 years of age;
* Adults aged 50 years of age or older;
* Person aged 5-49 years with underlying chronic medical conditions;
* All women who will be pregnant during influenza season;
* Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
* Children 6 months-18 years of age on chronic aspirin therapy;
* All health care workers;
* Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of persons at risk; and
* Any persons who would like to reduce their risk of contracting influenza.
Donnelly added that people over age 65 and those with chronic medical conditions should also discuss with their physicians obtaining pneumonia vaccine. The vaccine is effective in preventing many types of pneumonia, the major complication from influenza.
People can also protect themselves from the flu and other communicable diseases by practicing healthy habits such as regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, eating well, and getting enough sleep and exercise, and staying home if feeling ill.