At least 75 flu cases in county
By Stephanie Johns
Flu came to Morgan County a bit earlier this year, according to Kelly Malcom, office administrator at Madison Primary Care.
She said they started seeing flu cases beginning in November.
“This year it hit early,” she said. “Usually we don’t see flu cases until January, February.”
They have seen 75 cases of the flu so far. Malcom said that number includes both Type A and Type B flu strains.
Leah Ainslie, family nurse practitioner and county nurse manager at the Morgan County Health Department, shared information from Georgia’s weekly flu report.
“Georgia had widespread occurrences of sustained flu transmission,” she read. She added, “Basically, it’s everywhere.”
Malcom noted that once a person has the flu, they usually do not get it again during the same flu season.
Getting a flu shot has not kept some people from getting the flu, though.
“Some patients who’ve had the flu vaccine have ended up with the flu,” she said.
In spite of that, the Centers for Disease Control “continues to recommend influenza vaccination for people who have not yet been vaccinated this season,” according to www.cdc.gov/flu.
Ainslie explained that the flu shot does not make people sick.
“It’s a dead, killed virus,” she said. “It can’t happen.”
What can happen, she said, is that a person gets the shot and then, during the two weeks it takes for the shot to build up antibodies in the body, if the person comes in contact with someone who has the flu, they can get the flu but not from the vaccine.
Ainslie said there are three things people can do to prevent the flu.
First: get a flu shot.
“Everyone, ages six months and up, whether deemed high risk or not should get a flu shot,” she said. “Even if they’ve already gotten the flu, get the shot.”
She explained that the shot can protect those vaccinated from other strains of the flu.
“We’ve had a great response to the flu vaccine this year,” she said.
Second: take preventative actions.
Cover your nose and mouth whenever you cough or sneeze and then throw away that tissue. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Limit your time around people who already are sick.
To keep from spreading the flu if you have it, stay home at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
“People with the flu may affect others one day before symptoms develop and between five and seven days after they get sick,” she said.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body ache, headache, and fatigue. Some may have vomiting or diarrhea but Ainslie said that those symptoms are more common in children.
Third: take antiviral drugs.
“Taking antiviral drugs doctors prescribe you can make the illness milder and shorten your time sick,” she said.
Ainslie said those with the flu need to start the antivirals within two days of getting sick. Even after two days one still can get the benefit of the drugs, just not the maximum benefit.
Printed in the January 10, 2013