The flu season has hit early and hard in Callaway County, a local health official said Wednesday.
"The number of cases is unusually high for this time of the year in Callaway County," said Jennifer Schmidt, communicable disease nurse with the Callaway County Health Department.
Schmidt said so far 96 cases of the flu have been reported in the county.
"This is much higher compared to last year," Schmidt said. "Reports of the flu were much more prevalent this season. October and November reports were far ahead of normal."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports the flu season in the United States is off to its earliest start in a decade and studies indicate it will be an especially bad year for the flu.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports the number of flu cases in Missouri is almost 10 times the five-season average for this time of the year.
"The age groups hit the hardest in Callaway County are from ages 5 to 14 and 25 to 49," Schmidt said.