WHY GE­OR­GIA RE­MAINS HIGH IN AMOUNT OF FLU AC­TIV­ITY

CDC re­ports state is one of sev­eral ex­pe­ri­enc­ing greater lev­els of ill­ness.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - FRONT PAGE - By He­lena Oliviero ho­[email protected]

Flu ac­tiv­ity in Ge­or­gia con­tin­ues to climb up­ward af­ter de­clin­ing last month.

The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health said 5 per­cent of pa­tient vis­its to doc­tors were for the flu dur­ing the week end­ing Feb 2. That’s up from 4.4 per­cent of vis­its the week be­fore, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent re­port re­leased on Fri­day.

Af­ter flu rates rose sharply be­fore Christ­mas, they had been drop­ping. Now, rates are tick­ing back up­ward.

The state has re­mained high in flu ac­tiv­ity this sea­son. Ac­cord- ing to the last three weeks of the Ge­or­gia Weekly In­fluenza Re­port, pa­tient vis­its in the state have fluc­tu­ated be­tween 3.9 per­cent

and 5 per­cent, a tes­ta­ment to the virus’ un­pre­dictabil­ity.

Since the flu sea­son be­gan in early Oc­to­ber, the ill­ness has killed nine peo­ple in Ge­or­gia — eight adults and one child — and there have been 947 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in metro At­lanta due to flu symp­toms.

In the most re­cent data set from the in­fluenza re­port, which is com­piled by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, Ge­or­gia was one of sev­eral states ex­pe­ri­enc­ing high lev­els of the flu. Oth­ers were Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Ex­perts con­tinue to urge peo­ple to get a flu shot if they haven’t al­ready done so.

Ge­or­gia’s 2017-18 se­vere flu sea­son didn’t sub­side un­til the end of April. It claimed at least 154 lives statewide and led to more than 3,000 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions in metro At­lanta.

Lo­cal health of­fi­cials called it the worst out­break in decades.

Each year, 5 to 20 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion gets the flu.

This costs an es­ti­mated $10.4 bil­lion a year in di­rect med­i­cal ex­penses and an ad­di­tional $16.3 bil­lion in lost earn­ings an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Peo­ple should al­ways prac­tice good health hy­giene, but it is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant now with the flu cir­cu­lat­ing.

Dr. Andi Shane, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of hospi­tal epi­demi­ol­ogy at Chil­dren’s Health­care of At­lanta, out­lined key strate­gies for flu pre­ven­tion:

■ Get the flu shot. Hos­pi­tals and clin­ics are see­ing higher rates of flu in­fec­tion, but it’s still not too late to get a flu vac­cine. Even if a flu vac­cine does not com­pletely pro­tect you or your fam­ily from hav­ing the flu, peo­ple who get the shots tend to ex­pe­ri­ence fewer days of symp­toms, less se­vere symp­toms and are less likely to need med­i­cal care.

■ Good hand hy­giene should be prac­ticed by ev­ery­one. Wash your hands, and your chil­dren’s hands, fre­quently, es­pe­cially af­ter cough­ing or sneez­ing. You can also use an al­co­hol-based sanitizer to keep hands clean.

■ Cover your cough and sneezes with the in­side of your el­bow or a tis­sue that you then dis­card. Sneez­ing into the in­side of your el­bow or a tis­sue re­duces the chances those droplets (those tiny drops from a sick per­son) will fly out when you cough or sneeze and land on the mouths or noses of peo­ple nearby.

■ Stay home when sick. To re­duce the spread of flu in­fec­tions in the com­mu­nity, stay home from work, school or so­cial events when ill. The CDC recommends stay­ing home for at least 24 hours af­ter a fever is gone (ex­cept to get med­i­cal care or other ne­ces­si­ties). The fever should be gone for at least 24 hours with­out the use of a fever-re­duc­ing medicine, such as Tylenol.

■ Take care of your­self. To help your im­mune sys­tem be in good enough shape to fight off the flu and other germs, eat a bal­anced diet, get plenty of sleep and ex­er­cise.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.