Flu widespread in Georgia: Department of Public Health

STAFF REPORT :::

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the flu is widespread throughout the state, with more than 200 hospitalizations and two flu-related deaths confirmed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention further estimates that there have been at least 2.6 million flu-related illnesses and 1,300 deaths from flu nationwide.

Both are recommending those who have not yet received the flu vaccine do so immediately.

The DPH says the predominant flu virus currently circulating is a B/Victoria strain that usually does not appear until the end of the flu season in early spring. While B viruses can infect anyone, they generally strike children and young adults more than the elderly. The B/Victoria strain is included in this season’s flu vaccine.

“Every individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine – not just for their own protection, but to protect others around them who may be more vulnerable to the flu and its complications,” said DHP Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey MD., M.P.H. “It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so now is the time to get a flu shot.”

Flu symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. If you think you have the flu, call or visit your health care provider.

Additional steps you can take that help prevent the spread of flu include:

Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and warm water. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if you do not have access to soap and water.

Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or arm to help prevent the spread of the flu.

Avoid touching your face as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.

If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of a fever, without the use of a fever reducer, for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work.

If you are caring for a sick individual at home, keep them away from common areas of the house and other people as much as possible.

To learn more about influenza, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/. You can monitor Georgia weekly influenza reports, which are updated on Fridays, at http://dph.georgia/gov/flu-activity-georgia.

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