Georgia has recorded its first flu death of the 2018-19 season, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Statistics released for week four of the season — Oct. 28-Nov. 3 — show one person died from “influenza-associated deaths” during those seven days. The state office did not tell us where the patient was from. Also, there were six people hospitalized for treatment of flu-related illnesses last week; the season total stands at 16. The state identified flu activity as “sporadic” at this time as does a flu-tracker map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see below). The summary was posted on Friday, Nov. 9. Georgia is part of the CDC’s region four and the agency shows both Influenza A and Influenza B are active.
There is an additional focus on fighting the flu this season following a devastating 2017-18 season in Georgia that claimed 151 lives, including four youth, and hospitalized another 3,139. As many as 175 flu outbreaks were charted by the state last season. Recent seasonal statistics show:
2016-17: Nine deaths, 1,484 hospitalized, 37 outbreaks.
2015-16: Seven deaths, 592 hospitalized, three outbreaks.
2014-15: 28 deaths, 1,460 hospitalized, 34 outbreaks.
Public Health recommended tips to help fight the flu this season, which stretches into mid-May:
- Get the flu vaccine. Everyone six months old and over should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu, so it’s important to take preventive measures now.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- If you do get sick and think you may have the flu, contact your health care provider right away. There are medications that can be used to treat flu but they are most effective when taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.