(WALB) - The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed that there have been 51 flu deaths in the state, one of those a pediatric case, so far this season.
Of the 51, four were in South Georgia. One in Lee County, and three in the South Health District
The DPH did not specify where the flu-related deaths occurred, but the South Health District covers Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift and Turner counties.
According to the DPH, H3N2 strain seen this year is particularly hard on the very young, people over 65, and those with existing medical conditions.
"The most effective way to prevent the flu is getting your flu vaccine each year," highlights District Health Director Dr. William Grow. "It's not too late to get your flu vaccine at any of our health departments, local pharmacies or doctors' offices."
District Epidemiologist Kenneth Lowery said that the peak of flu season normally begins in January and runs through late February or early March, but it has been known to extend into May some years.
"Our hearts go out to the families that have lost a loved-one. We will not release the county of death or any type of identifying information, other than an age range," says Courtney Sheeley, communications specialist. "This disease is affecting people statewide…it doesn't matter where you live. Our message remains the same: everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and stay home if you're sick to eliminate the spread of the disease."
The Health District and Phoebe officials say you should follow the following advice to stay well:
- Avoid contact with people who have the flu.
- Seek medical attention quickly if you develop symptoms. Antiviral medication may shorten the severity and duration of the flu if you contract the illness.
- If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities.
- Cover your nose and your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose to prevent germs from spreading.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and objects.