Current winter flu season is the worst in a decade

It's that time of year again -- the winter flu season. The Centers for Disease Control has deemed the 2012-2013 season the worst in ten years.

Many health care centers across the country have been offering free flu shots, and most hospital employees are required to either get the flu vaccine or wear a mask.

In mid-Missouri, hospitals are taking precautions and giving helpful advice on how to prevent and treat the flu.

Dr. Susan Voss, a pediatrician at Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, said that children are especially susceptible to the virus.

"Influenza is spread through the air, by little droplets so if someone sneezes on something and you happen to touch it and touch your face you can easily catch the flu," sge said. "That's why children spread it so quickly, they don't wash their hands a lot and they sneeze,talk and kiss and love on each other."

She also said that young children could be affected by another illness, called respiratory syncytial virus, or R-S-V for short.

This virus hits infants and young children particularly hard because their immune systems are not fully developed yet.

"It's kind of a cold virus, but in young babies it can cause wheezing, and lots and lots of congestion," she said. "If your baby has a cold, and seems to be getting worse, is having trouble breathing or using extra muscles in their chest, it's time to call your doctor."

Capital Region reported that they have seen an increase in R-S-V patients in their emergency room, as well as University Hospital in Columbia. St. Mary's Hospital said they have seen a similar amount of patients compared to past years.