MEGAN COURTNEY | Reporter
St. Charles County is just 21 cases of the flu shy of exceeding last year’s 10-year high, according to the County Department of Public Health.
Last year, there were 4,051 reported cases of the flu in St. Charles County, according to Samantha Green, an epidemiologist at the department.
The reported number of cases was the highest that the department had recorded in 10 years. There are many weeks left to go in this flu season.
Tiffany Flaherty, a nurse practitioner at the Wellness Center in the Evans Commons, said that they have seen an increase in flu cases since the return from winter break.
As of Friday, Jan 19, there have been 16 cases of the flu diagnosed this year at the Wellness Center, according to documents provided by SSM Health.
On Dec. 27 of last year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued an official Health Advisory because of increased influenza activity.
The strain of flu that was “predominating” was A(H3N2) and has been associated with hospitalization and death in people over the age of 65 and young children, according to the report.
The vaccine for A(H3N2) was estimated to be 32 percent effective. In addition to getting the vaccine, the CDC said that the use of antiviral medications becomes “even more important than usual.”
“[Antiviral medication] Tamiflu is most beneficial if given within the first 12-24 hours after symptoms onset, but is still beneficial if given within 72 hours of symptom onset,” Green said. “Taking Tamiflu within the recommended time frame could lessen a person’s contagious period by one day.”
According to Tamiflu’s website, taking the drug at the first sign of flu symptoms may “reduce the amount of time you’re sick.”
It can prevent complications and make one feel better more quickly, according to Green.
Taking preventive action can help stop the spread of germs.
The CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people, limiting contact with people if you are sick, and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Green said that it’s still recommended to remain out of work or school until one’s fever has been gone for at least 24 hours. She also recommends wearing a mask at a hospital, urgent care or a medical office to protect others as well and oneself.
“The number one thing to do is wash your hands frequently to help prevent the spread of illness,” she said. “It’s not too late to get a flu shot.”
To get tested for the flu, students can go to the Wellness Center which is located on the third floor of the Evans Commons.