Flu Outbreak Reaches Metro Area

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A flu outbreak is affecting millions of people across the nation, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that the outbreak has reached epidemic proportions.

Here in the Kansas City area, there have been about 1,400 cases of the flu reported - a huge surge from this time over the last five years. But experts say that number could just mean an earlier flu season, or it could mean that we're in for a very long flu season.

Public health officials are urging people to take care of themselves.

"Get your flu vaccane or flu shot," said Jeff Hershberger with the Kansas City Missouri Health Department. "If you get sick, stay home. Wash your hands regularly."

Hershberger says that it's not the time to panic, and that officials are hopeful that the flu season has peaked and we may soon see flu cases start to drop.

"Its a little early to know whether we're actually in a decline or if just a lull because of the holidays," said Hersheberger. He says that while the numbers are up, they are up in comparison to a relatively mild five-year stretch leading up to this year.

"Basically we've had a number of very mild flu seasons, except for the H1N1 season that was 2009. The rest over the last five years have been very mild and a little bit later," said Hershberger.

Hershberger says that theere are still flu shots available, but the supplies are dwindling fast. Officials say that this year's vaccine is about 62 percent effective - which means that if you get the shot and still come down with the flu, you should recover faster.

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