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Flu having significant impact in Pike County

The flu season got off to an early start and Alabama is one of 19 states reporting high levels of flu.

The most recent weekly flu report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds most high levels of flu-like illness in the southern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

The CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 3.7 million flu illnesses, 32,000 hospitalizations and 1,800 deaths from flu with 19 flu-associated deaths among children.

CDC officials said it is not too late to get vaccinated and that the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu and its complications.

Amanda Pyron, Troy Regional Medical Center infection control officer, said during weeks 30 to 40 the incidences of flu in Alabama were not that high but have increased in the last weeks.

Pyron said one possible reason for the increase is that the holiday season brings people closer together, thus the increased potential for exposure.

“Families coming together for the holidays, church services and other gatherings where there is hugging and hand shaking all increase the possibility for exposure,” she said. “Most flu admissions at TRMC have been in the ER with those who are already dealing with breathing problems. Recently, we’ll have two to three patients admitted with positive flu, but that is a large number for a small area.”

Pyron said the recommended preventive for exposure to flu is “Hand-washing, hand-washing, hand-washing.”

“Hand-washing is the best way to keep the flu from being passed to others and it does not matter what kind of soap is used,” she said. “If you don’t have soap available, use a hand sanitizer. Keeping your hands clean is very important in preventing the spreading of flu.”

Pyron highly recommends getting the flu shot as the best way to prevent getting the flu.

“The flu can be very dangerous and it can kill,” she said. “The flu is especially dangerous for the very young and the elderly. The very young are just getting adjusted to their environment and the elderly are often dealing with other issues and can’t afford to deal with an extra virus.”

For those with reservations about getting the flu vaccine, Pyron said the flu shot does not cause a person to have the flu.

“However, it could ramp up an existing problem if there is one,” she said. “And, if you do get the flu, the fever and aches and pains will not be as bad as they would if you had not taken the the flu shot.”

Pyron said the flu is out there so, the best advice is to get the flu shot, wash your hands and, if you are running a fever or experiencing any flu-like symptoms, stay home and out of public areas.

Even though Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” was initially director toward fire-threatened Philadelphians in 1736, it is certainly applicable to the flu season.

So, the best advice is get a flu shot, wash your hands and stay out of public places. And, if you do get the flu, don’t pass it on.