Due to a reporting problem at some area urgent care centers, the Jefferson County Health Department has not been receiving accurate information about the current flu season, said Sara Wilton, the Health Department’s epidemiologist.
She said the Health Department has not received the flu data it needs since Nov. 21 and as a result, has not issued a flu report since then.
“We’ve gotten a few cases from some of our other providers throughout the area, but the ones we’re having some reporting issues with are actually a couple of our biggest reporters,” Wilton said.
According to the Health Department’s report in November, there had been 80 flu cases in the county at that time.
On Monday, Wilton said she didn’t think there had been many more cases since then and estimated a total of 90 cases in the county so far
She also said she had not heard of any flu-related deaths or outbreaks this season, which began in October and ends in May.
Wilton said some of the area urgent cares have seen a change in ownership, which is one of the reasons the Health Department hasn’t been receiving updated flu data.
She said the COVID-19 pandemic also has had an effect.
“Because of COVID, their priorities might be on other things,” she said. “If it were any other year and we were having this issue, this might be bumped up to No. 1 priority, but because of everything else going on with COVID, it might not be their No. 1 priority at the moment.”
Wilton said she hopes the reporting issue is cleared up soon.
“I’m optimistic we’ll be getting everything sorted out within the next couple of weeks,” she said. “We definitely will push out one of those reports as soon as we get the issue resolved.”
Wilton said she believes Jefferson County has not seen the peak of flu season, which will probably occur in late January or early February.
During the 2019-2020 flu season, the Health Department had reported 67 flu cases as of Nov. 23, 2019, and 183 cases as of Jan. 4, 2020.
Last year’s flu season ended up being the second highest on record in Jefferson County, with a total of 2,932 cases, four flu-related deaths and one outbreak in a long-term care facility.
The worst season on record was the 2017-2018 season, with 3,982 cases and 16 deaths, according to the Health Department.
As of Dec. 26, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported a total of 681 cases in the state and no flu-related deaths or outbreaks.
The Health Department offers flu vaccinations and anyone interested may call 636-797-4631.