Health

Mo. Health Dept offers free flu, RSV and COVID-19 testing

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Amid an increase in respiratory illnesses caused by multiple viruses, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is sponsoring free testing events across the state to slow or stop the spread of flu, COVID-19 and RSV.

Until March 2023, Missouri residents can visit one of 15 testing sites and get a single nasal swab to check for all three viruses. Patients of all ages can be tested. The health department says additional testing sites will be added.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common airborne virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms such as fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. Babies can also experience restlessness and poor feeding. The virus can show more serious symptoms, such as growling, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

The virus affects people of all ages, but is more common in children under age 2 and can be dangerous for babies and older adults. Most people recover from RSV within one to two weeks.

While RSV is not a reportable condition to DHSS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is tracking state-level trends and data shows an increase in Missouri.

Influenza and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore threat, nasal congestion or runny nose, muscle aches or body aches, and headache.

According to DHSS, some hospitals in Missouri are experiencing stress due to the increase in respiratory disease. That is why people are only allowed to travel to the emergency room if there is a real calamity.

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