Parts of Missouri see increase in flu-like illnesses

Friday, September 4, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. Missouri hospitals are reporting a sharp rise in the number of patients with flu-like illnesses in the past week.

A top health official said that while it's too early to call the numbers a trend, it's a reminder to take steps to help stop the flu from spreading.

The Missouri health department said Thursday that flu-like cases accounted for nearly 4 percent of all illnesses handled by hospitals in recent days -- up from 2 percent on typical days.

In Southeast Missouri, the department said flu-like cases account for nearly 14 percent of all illnesses treated recently at hospitals.

Health department director Margaret Donnelly said the figures indicate the spread of swine flu. Donnelly said the virus can be contained by frequent hand-washing and covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve.

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