The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is confirming the first flu-related death in the state this year. The individual was an elderly adult. Flu activity is increasing statewide, along with the number of hospitalizations due to flu-related illness.
“Every healthy individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “It is especially important for the elderly and very young to get a flu shot. And, when given to women during pregnancy, the vaccine can protect both mother and baby up to six months old from flu.”
Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills and fatigue. One of the most pronounced flu symptoms is an overall feeling of achiness and malaise that comes on quickly.
There are other things you can do to help protect against flu, including:
· Frequent and thorough hand-washing. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if there is no access to soap and water.
· Covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or arm.
· 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 fever without the use of a fever reducer for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work.
See a doctor to get a prescription for antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, if it is deemed appropriate. Antiviral drugs are most effective when administered within one or two days of symptoms appearing.
Flu season can last into March or April, so it is important to take preventative measures now to minimize the effects of the flu and stay healthy.