The Texas County Health Department reported only 19 confirmed cases of influenza as of Friday.

Statewide, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported 11,171 cases statewide. Nationally, influenza activity remains high, and forecasts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that it will remain elevated for several more weeks.

The best way to protect yourself and others against the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year.

How do you know if you have the flu?

It usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms:

•Fever (usually above 100 degrees)

•Cough

•Sore throat

•Runny or stuffy nose

•Body aches

•Headache

•Chills

•Fatigue (tiredness)

•Diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)

How can you avoid spreading the flu?

Some simple hygienic behaviors that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses such as the flu are:

•Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue away after you use it.

•Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

•Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

•If you get the flu, stay home from work, school and social gatherings. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

•Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often spread this way.

It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other infections on the basis of symptoms alone. If you have symptoms of the flu, contact your healthcare provider. There are tests that can determine if you have the flu. There are also antiviral medications your doctor may prescribe for treating the flu.

For more information, call the health department at 417-967-4131.

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