Flu cases still growing in St. Louis area

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ROCK HILL, MO (KTVI) – The number of flu cases in St. Louis County is down according to the latest figures from the St. Louis County Health Department.

But the head of a local clinic says don’t let that fool you – the flu is still making a lot of people sick and even killing some.

Close to 20 flu deaths are being reported from three different area hospitals.

“We’re in the epidemic.  We’re seeing a ton of fluand it’s here, it’s with us and it’s in the schools, it’s in the community. I mean it’s in your household,” said Dr. Matt Bruckel, the president of the Total Access Urgent Care Clinic on Manchester Road in Rock Hill.

Bruckel runs all four Total Access Clinics around the St. Louis area.

He says about 160 patients are being seen daily between the four clinics, and about a third to a half of them have the flu.

Among Bruckel’s patients on Thursday is E.J. Johnson, 64, from Glendale. He showed up at the Rock Hill clinic, “Right now I’m terribly congested, shortness of breath, coughing, runny nose. Just the typical signs, symptoms of a flu.”

The latest St. Louis County Health Department flu numbers show 92 new laboratory confirmed cases for the week ending January 19.

That’s down from 133 the week before.

Health professionals say the dip doesn’t necessarily mean flu season has peaked.

Our frigid weather doesn’t help.

“We definitely believe that congregating in smaller spaces indoors in closed environments is directly to blame for highly contagious infections like the flu,” explained Bruckel.

He expects flu cases to keep developing for some time, “The likelihood is that we’re not out of the season yetand we probably have several more months to come.”

Bruckel warns if you have the flu and start feeling better after taking medicine, don’t just start going places right away. He says you could still be contagious and infect others.

Bruckel tells us a good sign that you’re improving is if you’re fever free for 24 hours without any medicine.