The Advocate

Flu strikes the St. Louis area

The St. Louis area has had a record breaking number of influenza cases in the past months. Seeking medical attention is key to resolving symptoms and stopping the spreading of the illness.

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The St. Louis area has had a record breaking number of influenza cases in the past months. Seeking medical attention is key to resolving symptoms and stopping the spreading of the illness.

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The St. Louis area is currently facing a record high number of influenza cases, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. In the last week of 2017, St. Louis County was home to a record breaking 1,304 cases of the flu, which is the highest number of cases ever recorded in one week in the county. Since October, Missouri has also had an alarming number of around 500 influenza and pneumonia-related deaths.

Although staying healthy during a record breaking flu season may be difficult, there are some things you can do to avoid the flu.

“Good hand washing will help prevent the flu,” WHS Nurse Molly Lynchard said.

Besides healthy hygiene practices, you can also get a flu shot to up your chances of staying in good health. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, you can still receive a flu shot, which is 32 percent effective at lowering your chance of contracting the most prevalent strain of influenza.

Symptoms of influenza include aches in the muscles or joints, pain or tiredness around the eyes, weakness or fatigue, flushed and warm skin, headache, dry cough, sore throat, and runny nose. The main symptom that identifies influenza from a cold is fever, which Lynchard defined as “anything 100 or higher.”

“If you have symptoms of influenza…please come to the nurses’ office so we can check your temperature,” Lynchard said. “If you have been running a fever at all, you should stay home until you are fever free for 24 hours.”

The flu is very common right now, but telling the difference between a cold and influenza is often a difficult task. WebMD explains that colds often develop much slower and last around 10 days, while the flu often hits unexpectedly and lasts from two to five days. While the flu may leave your system quickly, the effects of the illness may linger. The fatigue that follows the flu can often last for multiple days and, in some cases, weeks.

“You should expect to be out for sure until your fever is resolved,” Lynchard said. “That could be anywhere from two to three days, and some people get a secondary infection, like strep throat or pneumonia…that could lead to someone being out of school for a week.”

The most important thing to do if you believe you have the flu is visit the school nurse or your doctor. The only way to be truly diagnosed with influenza is by going to your doctor and getting a nasal or throat swab, according to WebMD.  They can then put you on the necessary antiviral medications that will help treat you back to good health.

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Flu strikes the St. Louis area