Flu

A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

The number of people getting the flu is on the way back down in the St. Louis region. It spiked slightly earlier this month.

The St. Louis County health department confirmed 207 cases of influenza this week, compared to 380 last week, and 295 the week before that. In St. Louis, the number of weekly flu cases peaked earlier this month just below 150.

A flu vaccine dose beside several needles.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

A Washington University professor has a possible business solution to a perennial public health problem: flu vaccine shortages.

Olin Business School professor Fuqiang Zhang and his research partners are proposing a combination of existing contract incentives.

A flu vaccine gets placed inside a needle.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

Shots aren’t for everyone, but the manufacturer of a nasal spray version of the vaccine experienced a technical issue early in the season that caused shipping delays.

At Forest Park Peds in St. Louis, office manager Gail McCarthy says the clinic has been receiving just a percentage of the FluMist vaccines they’d originally ordered.

via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Judy Schmidt, James Gathany, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the past few weeks, the St. Louis region has seen a dramatic increase in the number of flu cases. The dangerous H1N1 strand that appeared in 2009 is back, and nine people have already died of the illness at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.  

via Wikimedia Commons

Officials at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis say nine people have died from the H1N1 flu virus, also known as swine flu, over the past six weeks. Another 35 patients were sick enough to be treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit, although, many were transported from outside the area.

Infectious Disease Physician Steven Lawrence says those who died ranged in age from their mid-20s to their mid-60s.

A flu vaccine gets placed inside a needle.
Daniel Paquet | Flickr

Health officials are urging residents to get the flu vaccination after a steep rise in the number of severe cases reported in both Missouri and Illinois.

This year’s most prevalent flu strain so far is H1N1 Type A. That strain hit the United States hard in 2009 and disproportionately affected young and middle-aged adults.

That seems to be the trend again, according to Dr. Faisal Khan, the director of Communicable Disease Control Services in the St. Louis County Health Department.

Judy Schmidt, James Gathany, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It’s winter again in St. Louis ― and that means the start of flu season.

Dr. Faisal Khan with the St. Louis County Department of Health says he’s seen a sharp spike in the number of reported flu cases in the past couple of weeks.

He says that quick uptick is normal for this time of year, and it’s too soon to tell whether the current pattern will continue.

(via Google Flu Trends)

Updated 3:21 p.m. with additional city data.

As our Julie Bierach reported yesterday, the flu this year is early, strong - and a second wave is expected.

But where? To use a phrase which may resonate with some of you - "let's go to the map!"

via Wikimedia Commons

The flu season has started early across the US. Doctors have been treating a large number of cases at area hospitals since October. Pediatricians at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis are treating a high number of patients diagnosed with the flu.

St. Louis Public Radio's Julie Bierach spoke with Dr. Ken Haller, a pediatrician at Cardinal Glennon. He says to be prepared for a second peak of flu cases.

Follow Julie Bierach on Twitter: @jbierach