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Flu reports below normal this year

With the holiday season just completed, the flu season is ready to begin.

Jennifer L. Schmidt, communicable disease nurse at the Callaway County Health Department, said January and February are normally the heaviest months for flu outbreaks.

“But since last October, I have received reports of only five confirmed cases of the flu in Callaway County. In the five years I have been in this job, this is by far the smallest number of cases for this time of the year,” Schmidt said.

But she warned that the situation could change during the rest of the winter and early spring.

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot. I don’t know why the flu has not been active this year. But also we haven’t made it through the rest of the winter and the spring yet,” Schmidt said.

Symptoms of the flu are similar to a cold, but the flu usually has a fever also associated with it. Other possible symptoms include muscle ache, fatigue, chills, sore throat and sometimes nasal congestion.

Kathy Wright, director of community relations for Fulton Public Schools, said attendance at the school is doing well and there have been no unusual indications of illnesses this year.

“Our attendance throughout the school was at 95 percent last month. So we are doing great. Monday was our first day back to school after the holiday break and attendance was normal,” Wright said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported Missouri is among the lowest flu activity states in the nation.

The agency recommends the best way to prevent the flu is to obtain a flu shot and avoid being around sick people if possible.

Other tips are to:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you sneeze.

• Wash your hand often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub or sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because germs spread in this way.

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

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