Widespread flu in GA - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Widespread flu in GA

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  The flu is now widespread throughout Georgia.

It's been deadly in southwest Georgia. We've had one confirmed death, an otherwise healthy 37-year old Lee County woman. Health officials are awaiting autopsy results on a two-year old who may have died from flu complications.

They say the number of confirmed flu cases and flu-related hospitalizations are up dramatically. Health officials worry the numbers could spike even higher as students in southwest Georgia head back to the classrooms as early as Wednesday. Pharmacies are dispensing a lot of Tamiflu and health officials say it's not too late to get a flu shot.

At Albany Internal Medicine they're running five to six flu tests a day in their lab and seeing positive results.

"We're seeing like five or six cases, confirmed cases a week over the last two to three weeks now," said Dr. Harry Dorsey, Albany Internal Medicine.

In some cases, they're asking patients not to come to the office.

"You really don't necessarily bring people in to the doctor's office and have them expose either other patients or our own personnel, so if someone calls and they have classic flu symptoms we just go ahead and treat them," said Dorsey.

Instead sending them straight to the Pharmacy. U-Save-It's Pharmacists have had plenty of prescriptions for Tamiflu.

"We've seen an increase in children getting Tamiflu and therefore parents getting the prophylactic dose to prevent them from getting the flu," said Stephanie Sceals, U-Save-It Pharmacist.

Just watch the flu's progression on the CDC's map, starting in November, Georgia is the first state to have a high number of flu cases and one of three that remains that way.

"The bulk of our cases are in zero to 17 years, there are a lot of cases in the elderly and adults as well," said Jacqueline Jenkins, Southwest Georgia Health District Epidemiologist.

It's the classic symptoms, although doctors are also seeing co-infections.

"High fever usually 102 or higher, aching, and then the runny nose coughing, some scratchy throats," said Dorsey.

"A lot of our positive cases or influenza cases we are seeing coupled with diarrhea and strep throat," said Jenkins.

The majority of positive cases have been Influenza A, definitely covered by the flu shot which is why doctors say it's still the best preventative method, although they've seen a few cases where someone who got a flu shot, still ended up with the flu.

We're still relatively early in the flu season, here in southwest Georgia it can go all the way to May, which is why health officials say there is still plenty of time to get a flu shot.

Children between six months and 8-years old getting the flu vaccine for the first time should make sure they get two doses given 4 or more weeks apart for full protection, unless otherwise determined by their healthcare provider.

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