MILLEDGEVILLE — With high levels of the flu reported in Georgia and nearly 30 other states, 20 flu-related deaths have already been reported in children so far this winter across the nation, one of the worst tolls this early in the year since health officials began keeping track.
Data as of Jan. 5 show 471 people have been hospitalized with the flu in the metro-Atlanta area, states the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) website. So far, Georgia has had two flu-related deaths.
“The activity for the state is still widespread since it has been going on for the last several weeks,” said JoAnna Wagner, RN infection prevention manager and patient safety officer at Oconee Regional Medical Center (ORMC). “We certainly seem to be experiencing earlier onset of the flu and we’re seeing an increase from about six weeks ago.”
The flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which spreads through coughing, sneezing or nasal secretions. For most people, symptoms last a few days and include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny or stuffy nose.
“We know that not everyone will get vaccinated for the flu this year. If you choose to skip the vaccine, we encourage you to stay home if you get sick. Do not come to work or school and risk spreading the virus to others. If you decide to gamble with your own health, please don’t gamble with the health of your loved ones and co-workers. They deserve better; protect them, too,” said Dr. David Harvey, health director for the North Central Health District (NCHD), which includes the Baldwin County Health Department. “We also encourage everyone to remember basic hygiene rules. Wash your hands often; cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow. These tips sound basic, but they are a great way to stop the spread of many diseases, not just flu.”