COLUMBIA — The number of flu cases in Boone County has stayed relatively steady for the past three weeks.
The county logged 170 reported flu cases last week, 10 fewer than the 180 cases reported for the previous week.
Sarah Rainey, regional epidemiology specialist for the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, said the numbers are relative because at this point in flu season, doctors may be treating patients based on symptoms instead of actual influenza testing, and not everybody who is ill with the flu will seek treatment.
Documented flu cases across Missouri rose to 16,487 as of Saturday, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. That represents an increase of 4,569 cases since Feb. 16.
People in the age group 25 to 49 make up the largest percentage of cases statewide, with 4,298 cases in that category since flu season began. The number is significantly higher than the five-season median of 1,233 — almost 249 percent higher.
Boone County differs from Missouri as a whole in that the highest number of local cases reported were in the age groups of 5 to 14 and 15 to 24, which county health officials believe may be because of the high percentage of young people who live in Columbia, specifically college-age young adults.
Free flu shots are still available to the public weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Health Department, 1005 W. Worley St.