Flu season still ahead of us

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Across the country, flu season has spread like wildfire. Earlier this week, the CDC reported the flu is widespread in 43 states. The Mississippi State Department of Health reports Mississippi is one of those states.

Mississippi State Department of Health’s Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas E. Dobbs said the state has been seeing a rapid increase of flu cases in the last two weeks.

“We’re at the heart of the flu season,” Dobbs said. He added that the peak of the flu season is normally between January and February. “The variation and intensity varies each year, but this year we’ve seen more flu cases than the last flu season.”

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He added that this flu season is very similar from that of two years ago. But this season, the department is seeing the flu primarily attack mostly people over the age of 65 and those with previous medical conditions.

Currently, the most common strain of the flu going around is Influenza A.

“But unfortunately, two-thirds of the Influenza A flu going around is not a perfect match for the vaccine,” Dobb’s added.

Even so, he encourages residents to take the current flu vaccine because it could still minimize their risk of contracting the illness, hospitalization, and death.

Locally, Highland Community Hospital is encouraging county residents to take the flu vaccine as well.

Stephanie Lopez, Director of Clinical Outcomes at Highland, said the hospital is proactively trying to get patients to take the flu vaccine.

“Nationwide, we’ve had a higher incident of people being hospitalized than we did last year,” Lopez said.

She added that every patient that comes in is encouraged to get the flu vaccine at the hospital.

“Not only is the flu shot important, but people also have to remember to keep good hand hygiene,” Lopez said.

She also said if someones experiencing flu-like symptoms, which include fever, sore throat, coughing, and body aches, it is important to contact their local health provider as soon as possible.

The Mississippi State Department of Health also provided a couple of tips to stay healthy during the flu season.

  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.
  • Stay home when you’re sick to avoid spreading the illness.
  • If you or someone you know gets the flu, it’s important to contact your health provider quickly in order to receive the necessary medications.