Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

January 4, 2014

Taking flu seriously

-- — While flu activity is high across the country, the Southeast is seeing increased cases weeks earlier than typical this year, and the peak is yet to come.

With children returning to school this week, the fear is that already overwhelmed doctor’s offices and clinics will be inundated with new cases. There has already been a confirmed outbreak in an elementary school in Lowndes County prior to the holidays, and parents who send sick children to school are risking infecting scores of others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), part of the increased severity of flu in recent years is the H1N1 strain, which was included in this year’s vaccine. Local cases of influenza in those who received the flu shot have been rare, affecting only those with other medical issues.

While the good news is that the flu vaccine is working, the widespread outbreak shows that many are still not getting their flu shots. All ages six months and up are encouraged to do so, and for those who work or live with high risk individuals, it could be a matter of life and death.

One local death was confirmed this week and more are expected.

This is a particularly nasty infection, not to be taken lightly, so those with the flu or flu symptoms are urged to stay home for their own good as well as for the protection of others. It’s not considered safe to go to work, school, or crowded public places until fever-free for 24 hours, without the help of medication. Flu is highly contagious and can be transmitted to others in a number of ways, including in a cough or sneeze up to six feet away, so isolating flu victims as much as possible is the only way to prevent its spread.

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