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First confirmed flu deaths reported in Ga.

The Ga. Dept. of Public Health (DPH) on Dec. 11 confirmed that Georgia has seen its first flu-related deaths of the 2013-2014 flu season and is advising that people receive a vaccination.

“DPH has lab confirmation of two flu-related deaths in the state. These are the first confirmed flu-related deaths in Georgia this flu season. Both of the deceased were adults,” said DPH Media Relations Manager Nancy Nydam.

While the flu level is still considered minimal in Georgia, DPH is reporting increases in flu activity statewide, including hospitalizations. Symptoms of the flu include a cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever. One of the most pronounced flu symptoms is an overall feeling of achiness and malaise that comes on quickly, Nydam said.

Nydam said frequent and thorough hand washing will help guard against the flu. Alcohol-based gels are the next best thing if there is no access to soap and water, she said.

“Cover the 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,” said Nydam. “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, Nydam said.

“The single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine. Every healthy individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine, unless there are underlying medical conditions. In those cases, patients should consult their physician,” said DPH Director of Health Protection J. Patrick O’Neal. “The holidays bring gatherings with family and friends and increase the likelihood of spreading the flu. Now is the time to get vaccinated.”  

Peak flu season is usually the end of January and runs through late February or early March. Nydam said it is important to take preventative measures now to minimize the effects of the flu and stay healthy this flu season.

“Whether through a flu shot or the nasal spray,getting a flu vaccine is more convenient than ever before. Vaccines are available, for example, from your doctor or local health department and at many retail pharmacies. Many employers, schools, colleges and universities also offer flu vaccines,” said DPH District 4 Risk Communicator Hayla Folden.

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