Although the number of influenza cases reported in Missouri are down significantly this year, area residents have not yet seen the peak of the 2010-11 flu season.
"Knock on wood, we have had no cases in Barry County so far," said Roger Brock, Barry County Health Department administrator. "Typically, the likelihood of seeing flu cases is higher in January and February though."
Flu season normally begins in October or November and can last through March, said Brock.
"We encourage everyone to get their flu shot," said Brock. "We haven't seen a huge reoccurrence of flu and the numbers are down statewide so we know the vaccine is doing its job."
The flu vaccine is still available at the Barry County Health Department offices in Cassville and Monett. The shot is administerd from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The vaccination cost is $15.
"If you start to show flu-like symptoms, we also encourage you to see your physician as soon as possible to have it checked out," said Brock.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some individuals may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.
The annual flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals 6 months of age and older. The 2010-11 flu vaccine will protect against H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B.
In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, the following precautions can help protect families from the flu:
* Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue after using it. If a tissue is not available, use the inside of the elbow instead of bare hands to cover the nose and mouth.
* Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub to prevent the spread of germs.
* Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.
* Individuals who are sick with flu-like symptoms should stay at home for at least 24 hours after fever has subsided without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. Exceptions should be made to receive medical care.
* Avoid close contact with sick individuals. When ill, individuals should limit contact with others, including family members, as much as possible.