St. Louis County reports record flu season

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Louis County Public Health Department is warning residents to be careful as the county is experiencing a record flu season.

Both the city and county have seen an increase in flu cases. This past week, the county set a record for the highest number of flu cases, with 1,160 confirmed cases of Influenza Type A and 144 cases of Influenza Type B.

Ed Hollingsworth, 67, was admitted to SSM Health St. Clare Hospital after being diagnosed with the flu.

“The worst, the worst I ever felt from the flu or anything else,” he said.

Hollingsworth said he was frightened by just how rough the illness is on the human body. He had trouble breathing.

“Your nose runs, your eyes hurt, all your bones ache,” he said.

Downstairs in St. Clare’s emergency room, patients played a waiting game as nurse and doctors scrambled to take care of the sick. It’s a seen happening at medical facilities across the St. Louis area.

“We’ve got many patients down here who are actually waiting in the ER to be admitted to a hospital bed and they’ve been waiting many hours,” Emergency Room Dr. Justin Moody said.

Officials said this year’s flu shot is only about ten percent affective. As kids return to school and young adults to college things could get worse.

“They’re going to expose all their classmates so that’s going to accelerate the spread of the virus as well,” said Dr. Moody.

At the Ladue Pharmacy, they were working hard to keep up with demand. The drug Tamiflu and its generic equivalent were flying off the shelves.

“It seems to be a little bit busy this years with flu symptom and cold symptoms in general we’ve been very busy,” Pharmacist Angie Kloeppel said.

Dr. Moody added, “Stay at home if you can. Don’t spread the disease. Try to keep it to yourself. Try to keep the community around you as healthy as possible.”

Hollingsworth said he'll never forget the illness.

“I was scared. I was really scared,” he said.

County Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan said the most important step in protecting yourself and your family from catching the flu is to get a flu vaccine. In addition to the vaccine, the county health department shared the following standard practices to avoid catching or spreading influenza:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Try to maintain a distance of three feet between yourself and others
  • Stay home when you are sick or think you may be getting sick

For additional information about the flu vaccine, visit CDC.gov.