COLUMBIA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting significantly fewer flu cases in Missouri, compared to last year.
This is consistent with the drop in flu cases nationally, according to the CDC. The majority of this season’s cases are less severe than last year’s, both in Missouri and elsewhere.
Jason Wilcox, a senior planner at Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, attributes the changes to three things: the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine, a different strain of the flu and a later peak flu season.
“H1N1 is the predominant strain,” Wilcox said. “The symptoms aren’t as severe as the H3N2 strain.”
Nationally, around 90 percent of this season’s confirmed cases are H1N1, a less severe flu strain.
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services said, of 436 cases reported in the area, 355 are Influenza A cases.
Wilcox said his department has seen flu numbers “tick up over the last few weeks,” and he’s expecting a later peak in this year’s flu season. Peak flu season was earlier last year, around November, December and January.
According to the CDC, this year’s vaccine is about 47 percent effective.
“It’s never too late to get your vaccine,” Wilcox said. “Flu season technically runs through May.”
The vaccine isn’t the only way to prevent the flu. Wilcox recommend people wash their hands with hot water and antibacterial soap. And he said people should cough into their sleeve and not their hands.