Pulaski County is feeling the spread of the flu with 70 confirmed cases in the county and schools reporting 175 children out with flu-like symptoms

Missouri is one of seven states in the United States currently at the highest level of flu activity.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses a color-coded map to report influenza activity across the United States. In the latest FluView report, Missouri is in the red, representing the highest of 10 influenza activity levels. 

Influenza is a respiratory illness that hits suddenly and brings fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and muscle aches.

According to the Pulaski County Health Department, Symptoms can iclude "chills, body aches, fever, and headache. You or another family member may also have a cough, runny or stuffy nose, and a sore throat. Illness may last up to 7 days. If your child has been infected, it may take 1-4 days (usually 2 days) for symptoms to start. You are contagious during the 24 hours before and up to 7 days after the illness begins. "

“If you think you have the flu, see your doctor and ask about antiviral drugs,” said Dan Sabourin, R.N., from Lake Regional Occupational Resources. “People at high risk for flu complications and people who are very sick with the flu should get antiviral drugs. Some other people can be treated with antivirals at their health care provider’s discretion. Treatment works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick but still can be beneficial when given later in the course of illness.

The Pulaski County Health Department told the Daily Guide Tuesday afternoon that Pulaski County is feeling the effects of the surge in the flu and flu-like symptoms.

Pulaski County Health Department Public Health Program Director, Patty McClendon, told the Daily Guide that there have been 70 confirmed cases of the flu in Pulaski County. Additionally, Pulaski County School Districts, including Crocker, Dixon, Laquey, Richland, and Waynesville have reported 175 children out with flu-like symptoms.

McClendon said it was hard to get an accurate reading of the flu because people don't always go to the doctor and to get confirmation. When flu is suspected, the doctor will swab and test for it, confirming the case. Often, according to McClendon, parents will just keep their children home and let the illness run its course.

A treatment often used for flu is Tamiflu, an antiviral medication for the treatment of people with the flu. According to drugs.com, it "blocks the actions of influenza virus types A and B in your body."

“Of course, the best treatment is prevention,” Sabourin continued. “If you are not already sick, get a flu vaccine. Contact your primary care provider to schedule an appointment. Also, all four Lake Regional Pharmacy locations — Camdenton, Lake Ozark, Laurie and Osage Beach — continue to provide flu vaccines, and appointments are not required.”   

McClendon pointed out that hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting common areas are great ways to prevent spreading illness in general.

"Strep is also going around," McClendon said. "Don't share anything like drinks or straws and wash your hands. Sick kids need to stay home."

Influenza should not be confused with what people sometimes call “the stomach flu,” a term used by some to describe illnesses causing vomiting or diarrhea and are usually caused by the norovirus.

Throughout the current flu season, Influenza A (H3) viruses have been the most commonly reported strain. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older and encourages anyone who has not gotten vaccinated yet this season to get vaccinated now.

The Pulaski County Health Department is offering free flu shots for uninsured and underinsured adults, as well as children who are uninsured, underinsured, or covered by Medicaid. McClindon said underinsured means that the client's health insurance won't pay for it.

 To make an appointment for a flu shot call 573-736-2217 at the Crocker branch of the Health Department or 573-774-3115 for the Thursday Waynesville clinic.