CARROLL COUNTY, Mo. — A wave of flu is washing over northwest Missouri and health departments across the state are making sure everyone knows how to stay safe and what to do if someone gets sick. Click below to hear the full, edited Newsmaker interview which aired live on KMZU between Misty Barlow, who is the Director of Communicable Diseases for the Carroll County Health Department, and KMZU’s Brian Lock.

There has been a major spike in flu cases in the area. There have been more than 7,000 reported cases of flu since the start of 2017 in the Northwest District of Missouri, that same number was less than 500 just a year ago. Barlow said she is unsure what is causing the flu outbreak, but that it is possible a previous vaccination did not immunize against a particular strand of the flu.

Ms. Barlow added that children and elderly populations are especially voulnerable because memebers of those communities often have weaker immune systems. The best way to prevent flu, she added, is to engage in vigirous handwashing and to make sure that you and your family are vaccinated against the flu.

If someone does get sick, Barlow suggests visiting a doctor and staying home from school or work to aviod spreading the virus. Flu shots are available, and often covered by insurance, at most doctors’ offices. They are also available for those who cannot afford them or are uninsured at the Carroll County Health Department at no cost. Barlow said many area health departments have similar programs, however supplies are limited and immunizations are first come, first serve.