After spiking in early January, cases of the flu appear to have subsided in the St. Louis area.
According to the St. Louis County Health Department, the 92 influenza-like illnesses recorded for the week ending Jan. 19 was 151 fewer than the first week of January. St. Louis City numbers for last week have yet to be released.
Most of the flu cases this season have been the H1N1 virus, which has been especially hard on young adults, said Dr. Jade James, the department’s director of research and medical services.
“The influenza disease itself seems to be affecting the young, healthy individuals,” said Jade. “The average age is about 28 or 29 this year with no additional medical problems.”
Infectious Disease Physician Steven Lawrence of Barnes-Jewish Hospital explained that many older people have a stronger resistance to the virus due to flu pandemics that swept the country from 1918 to the late 1950s
“In 2009 of course we had the emergence of this H1N1 and that was a very severe flu season,” said Lawrence. “Over the next couple of years here in the St. Louis we have not seen a lot of activity of H1N1. So, this is the first season that has been H1N1-predominant since the pandemic in 2009.”
At Barnes-Jewish Hospital alone 10 people have died this season due to the virus. Hospital officials also report two deaths at Mercy Hospital St. Louis and six deaths at SSM Health Care’s seven area hospitals.
Though the number has declined, another spike in flu cases is possible this season, said Lawrence.
Typical symptoms of the flu include sudden onset of a fever, headache, muscle aches and sore throat.