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January 16, 2014

Flu-related death confirmed

A Dougherty County adult became Southwest Public Health District’s first flu fatality for the 2013-2014 flu season, health officials confirmed Thursday. The Georgia Department of Health has confirmed more than 20 flu fatalities statewide.

“Our sympathy goes out to his family and friends,” said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant. She said that the man had received treatment at a hospital and had underlying health conditions that raised his risk of complications from flu.

“We don’t know at this time whether he had been vaccinated against the flu,” Grant said. “Vaccination is the best protection against flu, and it is not too late to get vaccinated.”

Flu season peaks here in January and February, but cases continue as late as May.

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older as the first and best way to protect against influenza. Grant noted that this year’s vaccine is a good match for the viruses in circulation this season. The predominant strain being seen in the United States, and Georgia, is H1N1.

Those most at risk for complications from H1N1 include children and young adults, pregnant women, the obese and people with conditions such as diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS or a history of cancer, stroke or heart disease. Others at risk include older adults and healthcare workers.

Flu symptoms include fever (usually high), headache, extreme tiredness, a dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. Stomach symptoms are also common, especially in children.

Besides getting the flu vaccine, other actions that protect against the flu include:

· Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based rub if soap and water aren’t available.

· People who are sick with flu-like illness should stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

For more information about the seasonal flu vaccine, contact your local health department or go to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org or www.cdc.gov. 

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