More than 300 have been hospitalized and five people have died from flu-related illnesses since the Georgia Department of Public Health began its 2017-2018 flu surveillance in the first week of October, according to department officials.
US health officials on Friday said plenty of people are getting sick, and the flu has hit epidemic levels - just as it does most winters.
Health officials in Dallas County are still recommending the flu shot for everyone over 6 months old.
"We have not seen an increase in flu activity this early in the winter in the past five years", said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in the NMDOH's January 4 report.
De Marco said flu medications are most effective if it is started within 48 hours of contracting symptoms.
Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People who are at high-risk for flu complications, such as young children, pregnant woman and elderly people, may need a prescription antiviral drug, such as Tamiflu or Relenza, the news release said.
The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 5.8%, the same as the previous week.
In addition, while influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been the most common ones circulating nationally, influenza B has been the most common strain circulating in some regions of the state, including central NY. "[For example], B viruses will be showing later in the season, [which is] another reason why to go ahead and get vaccinated now if you have not gotten vaccinated". Jernigan said in 2014-2015, the last severe flu season in the U.S., that number reached 6% at this point in the flu season.
"We can evaluate and treat patients with mild to moderate cases of influenza", he said.
Health officials also urged people to continue to practice good hygiene such as hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, not touching the eyes, nose, or mouth, and staying home if sick.
Flu vaccinations is the most effective protections against the flu, according to State Epidemiologist Dr. Jonathan Ballard. "The duration of the season can be anywhere from eight to 12 more weeks".
Flu often hits the ends of the age spectrum more than the middle, and that's the case this year as well.
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