COLUMBIA — Four people in Boone County have already been diagnosed with influenza, and the flu season has not yet officially begun.
It can be a serious and life-threatening illness, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that about 36,000 people die from it in the United States every year.
Of those from Boone County with the flu so far this season, three were between the ages of 15 and 24 and one between 25 and 49 years old, said Deidre Wood, public information specialist for the department. She added that all of the cases “were ‘quick flu’ tested and not ‘culture confirmed.’”
Sixty percent of the time the peak flu season falls between February and March, Wood said. Chris Coffman, the public health nurse supervisor of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, said it is important to know the difference between a common cold and the flu.
Typically the main symptoms of a cold include:
- Stuffy nose.
- Sore throat.
People who have the flu will usually experience:
- High fever.
- General aches and pains.
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Extreme exhaustion.
- Chest discomfort and a cough.
Wood said the best way to stave off the flu is by getting properly vaccinated. A flu shot usually costs $20, and Wood said that it is definitely cheaper than shouldering the cost of missed work hours, doctors’ fees, hospital fees and medications.
Vaccinations are given weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department. Medicaid and Medicare are accepted.