Tifton Gazette

Local News

January 14, 2013

Ga. Dept. of Public Health: Flu reaches epidemic level

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia is now in the midst of a flu epidemic. The flu is hitting Georgia harder this year than it has in nearly a decade. Flu activity is widespread throughout the state and the number of flu related hospitalizations is high. So far, two adult, flu-related deaths have been reported in Georgia.

“We are seeing some decrease in flu activity, but we are still at epidemic level and the flu is unpredictable,” says Patrick O’Neal, M.D., direction of the Division of Health Protection , Georgia Department of Public Health. “We are getting reports of more severe flu effects in neighboring states, including the number of deaths. Peak flu season typically does not happen until late January or early February so we may not have seen the worst yet.”

The Georgia Department of Health offers several suggestions for flue prevention.

Frequent and thorough hand washing with warm water and soap will help protect you from the flu. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if you do not have access to soap and water. Cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue or cough or sneeze into the crook of the elbow or arm. Avoid touching your face as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.

 If you are sick, the Department of Public Health says to stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of a fever without the use of a fever reducer for at least 24 hours before returning to work or school.

If you are caring for a sick individual at home, the department says to keep them away from other people as much as possible. Keep the sick person away from common areas of the house and if you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Clean the sick room and the bathroom once a day with household disinfectant. No one should visit the sick person other than the caregiver. Clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person thoroughly before reusing. You do not need to wash items separately.

To learn more about influenza and the nationwide epidemic, go to www.flu.gov.

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