Flu | St. Louis Public Radio


Officials say even healthy people should receive a flu vaccine to protect the greater population.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Public health experts are urging Missourians to get a flu shot ahead of a flu season that could likely arrive earlier and be more severe than last year’s. 

The vaccine is the most effective way for people to protect themselves and others in the community from the flu, state health officials said. 

“Herd immunity” also can protect at-risk people including the elderly, young children and people who cannot safely receive vaccines, but only if high numbers of people who can receive the shot are immunized.

Is It A Nasty Cold Or The Flu?

Jan 6, 2019

It's that time of year again. You wake up with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, a little achy — maybe a fever. Is it a classic head cold, or do you need to be more concerned? Could it be the flu?

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

Missouri health officials are urging people to get a flu shot this year to prevent a repeat of 2017’s brutal flu season.

As of Oct. 6, health officials have recorded more than 60 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Missouri, according to the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The agency still lists flu activity as “sporadic,” meaning individual cases have been detected but not a regional outbreak.

A flu shot “remains the best way to protect people from becoming ill or becoming hospitalized or even dying,” said Sharon Frey, clinical director of the Saint Louis University Center For Vaccine Development.

Dr. Ken Haller addressed how to navigate the flu including the symptoms, treatment and prevention.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health reports 1,282 cases of influenza in the first week of January. The illness is also causing a low blood supply at local hospitals.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed why the flu is so prevalent in St. Louis. Joining him for the discussion was Ken Haller, SLUCare pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital and professor at Saint Louis University.

Haller addressed how to navigate the flu including the symptoms, treatment and prevention, period of contagion and effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

After a record number of influenza cases in St. Louis County in the last week of 2017, the numbers have dipped, but only slightly. 

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health reports 1,282 cases of influenza in the first week of January. That's compared to 1,304 in the last week of December, a record for the county.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

How bad will flu season be this year?

Well, it’ll be bad for you, if you catch it. So, get a flu shot, health officials say.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they can’t accurately predict the number of people who will get the flu in a given season, but research shows that vaccinations reduce the risk of influenza by 40 to 60 percent. They recommend flu shots for everyone over 6 months old.

Karen Wheat, second from left, stands with fellow volunteers at the Immune Deficiency Foundation's Walk for PI (Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases) on 10/09/16.
provided by Karen Wheat.

Sometimes we swap more than stories when we gather around the Thanksgiving table.

Flu season generally runs from late fall into early spring, but the number of cases starts to increase when people come into contact with others around the holidays.  By getting a flu shot, people can protect themselves and those around them who may be unable to get vaccinated.

“For an immune compromised patient, this is a really hard time … we can’t fight the flu,” said Karen Wheat, 53, a Belleville resident who lives with common variable immune deficiency. The disorder affects more than 1 in 50,000 people worldwide.

St. Louis region has seen late, mild flu season

Mar 24, 2016
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.

St. Louis Flu Cases Down After New Year Surge

Jan 22, 2014
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.  

Nine Deaths Linked To H1N1 Flu Virus

Jan 10, 2014
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.

It's Back! Flu Spreads (Again) In St. Louis

Dec 26, 2013
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.

Flu, Flu Everywhere? Mapping The Flu Near You

Jan 11, 2013
(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

Public opinion varies on what to do about flu

Feb 8, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 8, 2010 - When asked last month about what’s ahead for the H1N1 virus , an infectious disease specialist, a school administrator and officials at two regional health departments all said they wouldn’t be surprised if a third wave hit by the end of winter.

Pandemics tend to come in waves, they said -- the first and smaller wave of the virus hit last spring; the second in the fall. That third wave has yet to come, and there's no assurance it ever will. All remains mostly quiet on the H1N1 front: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports  that flu activity is “relatively low.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 29, 2009 - Former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., has taken on a starring role in a regional and national political debate that is heating up as supplies of flu vaccine continue to be tight.

The issue? After 60 years, why does the United States still use chicken eggs to produce vaccines?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 21, 2009 - U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, has joined two others on the House Small Business Committee  who "are expressing their concerns about the impact on the pork industry of the slang term being used to describe the H1N1 influenza virus..."

The trio has sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

It's flu season, wash your hands

Sep 4, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 4, 2009 - With the start of the school year comes a fresh to-do list for administrators like Lisa Harnacker, manager of health services at the Parkway School District. This year, unlike many others, prioritizing is easy: anything related to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, comes first.

"It's right up there on top of the list because it's what's here and now," Harnacker said.

On Science: Getting ready for flu season

Jul 15, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 15, 2009 - It is mid-summer, the day after baseball's All-Star game here in St. Louis, with the cooler days of fall in distant sight. This is the time of year that public health officials begin to seriously prepare for the unwelcome guest that arrives each fall with the cool weather: influenza.

On Science: Flu is back - Why is everybody so scared?

Apr 28, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 28, 2009 - Anybody who hasn't been asleep for the past few days -- anyone who listens to television, reads a newspaper or checks out news on the Internet -- knows that a new flu has arrived, and that a lot of public health officials are concerned.

The first cases of what is now being called "swine flu" surfaced in Mexico last week, where more than 2,000 cases have been reported and as many as 103 deaths are thought to have been caused by the virus. As of Monday, the World Health Organization has confirmed 40 swine flu cases in the United States, 20 of them on Monday. There are going to be a lot more.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 28, 2009 - Health officials said Tuesday that a case of swine flu had been confirmed in St. Charles County, making it the first known case in the St. Louis area.

No additional information was released about the person who has the flu. It was one of four new cases detected in Missouri on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable cases in the state to 12.