Flu-Related Deaths in South Georgia

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed five flu-related deaths between South Health District and Southwest Health District, which covers 24 South Georgia counties. As of January 11, DPH has confirmed 31 flu-related deaths throughout Georgia for the 2019-2020 flu season.

The flu activity level is high throughout Georgia and is expected to continue at elevated levels for several more weeks.

Most people who get the flu will have mild illness and will recover in less than two weeks, according to Kenneth Lowery, MPH, South Health District Epidemiologist. However, some people are more likely to get flu complications, such as adults 65 years and older, young children, and those with chronic illnesses.

Symptoms vary from person to person, and can include cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever. One of the most pronounced flu symptoms is an overall feeling of achiness and discomfort that comes on quickly. Those with flu like symptoms should seek medical attention as quickly as possible since antivirals must be started with 48 hours of symptom onset to be effective.

“The most effective way to prevent the flu is getting your flu vaccine each year,” highlights Dr. William Grow, South Health District Director. “It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine at any of our health departments.”

Frequent and thorough hand washing also will help guard against the flu. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if there is no access to soap and water. Cover your 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, 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.

According to Dr. Charles Ruis, Southwest Health District Director, the peak of flu season normally begins in January and runs through late February or early March; however, it’s been known to extend into May some years. It is important to take preventive measures now to minimize the effects of the flu and stay healthy this flu season.

“Our hearts go out to the families that have lost a loved-one. We will not release the county of death or any type of identifying information,” says Courtney Sheeley, Director of Communications. “This disease is affecting people statewide…it doesn’t matter where you live. Our message remains the same: everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and stay home if you’re sick to eliminate the spread of the disease.”