Jefferson County Department of Health specialist offers tips to avoid the flu

Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association executive director Robert Thompson- Ashley Fitzpatrick

Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association executive director Robert Thompson- Ashley Fitzpatrick

The Commissioner of Public Health warned that there have been 15 flu-related deaths of people 65 and older this season, with that same age group making up the majority of the more than 450 flu hospitalizations.

IDPH medical director and state epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said there was still time to get a flu shot, which generally keeps the flu virus at bay or lessens the symptoms. This includes those with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, children under age 2 and those over 65.

To protect the family's privacy, the children's hometown, county and gender are not being released.

Compared to past year, ARC is reporting much higher rates of patients seeking flu tests and receiving positive results.

"Mississippi hospitals, like those across the country, are experiencing a huge influx of patients due to the flu and are taking necessary steps to ensure patients receive appropriate care in the appropriate setting", said Timothy H. Moore, President/CEO of Mississippi Hospital Association.

However, this does not capture the flu-stricken patients in some forty other hospitals, he added.

"The difference between the two [types] is that Influenza A - particularly H3N2 - which has been predominating in recent years, tends to affect older people". We have seen a jump; so we think it's an opportunity to alert our population about how severe this season seems to be; but there is still time to get vaccinated. AL.com reported that hospitals in seven of the state's eight health districts were at 90 percent capacity on Friday. There are ample supplies throughout Kentucky.

Those eight bring the total number of fatalities attributed to flu to 14 since October 1, 2017, or what the department considers the beginning of the flu season. There have already been 49 outbreaks reported this season.

Avoid close contact with sick people.

"The vaccine doesn't necessarily prevent you from getting influenza, but it does prevent you from getting sick and missing school, missing work, getting hospitalized and getting admitted to the intensive care unit and potentially dying", Mateo said. People recovering from the flu should not go outside until their fever has subsided for 24 hours without medications.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available.

MS is one of 22 states with a high flu rate in the current flu season.

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