Flu activity below average in Mississippi so far this season

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 16, 2016

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, flu activity has been low this season.
However, in other parts of the country, severe respiratory illness has been documented in young to middle-aged adults who have been diagnosed with the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The majority of reported cases of severe illness and death have occurred in unvaccinated individuals, a MSDH release states.
According to the release, the CDC identified the 2009 H1N1 flu strain as the virus in circulation this flu season, which is the same strain responsible for serious illnesses and deaths in Mississippi during the 2013-2014 flu season.
“The good news is that this year’s flu vaccine has proven to be a good match and includes protection against the H1N1 strain,” MSDH Epidemiologist Thomas Dobbs said in the release. “With the increased activity in other parts of the country, it’s important to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already, especially if you are traveling.”
CDC reports show an increase in deaths from pneumonia and flu in January, which accounts for seven percent of all deaths last month, the release states.
The MSDH monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness Sentinel Surveillance System, which is made up of healthcare providers in the state who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms. They also submit respiratory samples for flu testing. This information is used to determine the presence and spread of flu, the release states.
The MSDH recommends seasonal flu vaccinations, which are available at county health departments.
The cost for a season flu vaccination is $30, a flu nasal mist costs $35 and high-dose flu vaccination for those 65 and older is $55, the release states.
Individuals younger than 18 who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program or the Children’s Health Insurance Program can receive the vaccination for $10, the release states. Insurance is also accepted for children’s flu shots.
According to the release, the MSDH accepts Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and the State and School Employees’ Health Insurance plan for adults.
The MSDH states in the release that vaccination is the best protection, but there are basic infection control measures which can also reduce the spread of the flu. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick and washing hands frequently.
The Pearl River County Health Department is located at 7547 Highway 11 North, Carriere. Contact staff by phone at 601-798-6212.

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