COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the first laboratory culture-tested influenza case for the 2007-2008 winter season on Monday.
A southwest Missouri woman in her mid-20s culture-tested positive for the virus, according to Matthew Forester, a public health laboratory scientist at the State Public Health Laboratory.
“It’s a wake-up call to let people know that the true flu is here,” said Brian Quinn, a Health and Senior Services department representative.
An average of 3,000 Missourians were killed last year by a combination of flu and pneumonia, Quinn said. “It can be very serious.” Influenza cases tend to peak from mid-January to mid-February, though flu season is from October to May.
The best remedy is prevention, Quinn said. He advises always washing hands with antibacterial soap, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying at home if sick in order to prevent spreading the germs to your co-workers or friends.
All children aged 6 months to 5 years and adults over 50 years old are advised to get vaccinated, as well as those with chronic medical conditions, women who may be pregnant and all health care workers. A vaccine is also advised to anyone who wants to reduce the risk of contracting the flu, Quinn said.
Vaccines are available at the Columbia/Boone County Health Department for $20, Deidre Wood, public information specialist at the Health Department said.
“The sooner (people) get it, the better,” Wood said, because it takes about 10 days to two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.
The Health Department charges about $20 per dose and does not accept private health insurance, though it does accept Medicaid and Medicare. Walk-ins are welcome from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Quinn advised people to contact a physician before getting vaccinated and said leading a healthy lifestyle is also key to prevention.