flu circle clipped.jpg

The Jefferson County Health Department had received reports of 35 county cases of influenza in the first five weeks of the 2019-2020 flu season, from Sept. 29 through Nov. 2.

Dylan Steigerwald, the department’s epidemiologist, said that number of laboratory-positive cases is typical for this time of year.

The county has seen 21 type A cases and 14 type B cases, according to the Nov. 2 report. The report covers residents from infancy through age 65. The age group hit the hardest, so far, is 15-24. There were 11 cases, 31.4 percent of the total.

Steigerwald said no dominant strain of flu has emerged yet.

He said the peak of the flu season is usually somewhere between late December and early February, although the arc of a particular season is hard to predict.

When the peak hits, everyone is at a greater risk of contracting the flu, Steigerwald said.

He said anyone over the age of 6 months can get the flu vaccination.

“It’s better to get it now, early, before we hit our peak,” he said.

He said the shot takes two weeks to kick in, so the earlier the better.

If someone has insurance, the shot will most likely be covered.

The Health Department takes part in a program called Vaccines for Children, which provides flu shots to those 18 years and younger and who are uninsured or underinsured, Steigerwald said.

The flu shot is available at all three Health Department locations: the Hillsboro office, 405 Main St.; the Arnold office, 1818 Lonedell Road; and the High Ridge office, 5684 Hwy. PP, next to the Northwest Branch of the Jefferson County Library.

The offices are open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, the High Ridge office will be closed Friday, Nov. 8, and the Arnold Office will be closed Friday, Nov. 22. All offices will be closed Nov. 28-29.

Steigerwald said flu symptoms include fever, aches, chills or sweating, and weakness.

He advises people who get the flu to wash their hands frequently and stay away from others.

“Stay home from work and school, especially while you are still running a fever,” Steigerwald said.

During the 2018-2019 season, there were 2,466 positive cases and 10 flu-related deaths over the eight months. That compares to 3,982 cases and 16 deaths during the 2017-2018 season, the worst on record for Jefferson County.