Influenza | St. Louis Public Radio

Influenza

St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty during the 1918 Influenza epidemic.
Library of Congress

In determining the best guidelines for government action during the COVID-19 outbreak, city leaders and officials are looking at how different metros responded during the 1918 flu pandemic. The general consensus is that because St. Louis implemented more extensive quarantine measures, the area had a lower death rate than other cities — like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City.

In his latest piece, Chris Naffziger, who writes about history and architecture for St. Louis Magazine, wrote that while city officials managed to prevent the deaths of thousands during the pandemic of 1918 through 1920, St. Louis’ response to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic wasn't quite what we've been told.

Sarah King isn't afraid of having the flu — in fact, she considers herself an "excellent sick person."

"I have a pretty high pain tolerance," King says. "I'm not a person that whines a lot. I just kind of suck it up."

So when she heard about a medical study that pays volunteers about $3,000 to be infected with the live flu virus, King thought the offer sounded too good to pass up. Last fall, she checked in for a 10-day stay at Saint Louis University's "Hotel Influenza," a quarantine unit where researchers study how the human immune system fights the flu.

Dr. Daniel Hoft, left, demonstrates how to listen to the heartbeat of a patient with Eric Eggemeyer, coordinator of clinical research at SLU's Center for Vaccine Development.
St. Louis University

Sarah King isn’t afraid of having the flu — in fact, she considers herself an “excellent sick person.”

“I have a pretty high pain tolerance,” King said. “I'm not a person that whines a lot. I just kind of suck it up.”

When she heard about a medical study that pays volunteers about $3,000 to be infected with the flu virus, the marketing manager thought the offer sounded too good to pass up. Last month, she checked in for a 10-day stay at St. Louis University’s “Hotel Influenza,” a quarantine unit where researchers study how the human immune system fights the flu virus.

Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of cases reported in Missouri this flu season is only a fifth of last year’s, thanks in part to mild temperatures.

There have been 5,460 flu cases reported to the state since early October, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That’s less than one-fifth the number of cases reported during the same period in 2018.

The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in recent memory. In Missouri alone, more than 300 people died from 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.

Washington University scientists are identifying genetic features of flu viruses to investigate how to predict flu pandemics.
Credit Jacco Boon and Graham Williams | Washington University St. Louis

Washington University scientists are identifying genetic features of flu viruses to investigate how to predict flu pandemics. 

In a study published in the Nature Communications journal, researchers Jacco Boon, Graham Williams, and Sebla Kutluay write that focusing on the genetic makeup of a flu virus can determine how they replicate and mutate.

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.

On Science: Whatever happened to bird flu?

Dec 31, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 31, 2008 - In an old photo, members of the American Red Cross are removing two Spanish influenza victims from a home in St. Louis in November 1918. Both are dead. About 675,000 other Americans died of flu within 18 months, the last months of the First World War.