The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) confirmed two pediatric deaths due to influenza (flu) illness. The deaths occurred in DeSoto and Madison County.
“Mississippi is now seeing increased influenza activity statewide,” said State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson.
Local heatlh care providers report that flu cases have increased in Yalobusha County.
“I have never seen anything like it,” said Dr.Heidi Pratt, commenting on the number of young people she has treated.
“We’re concerned most about the very young and the very old,” Dr. Pratt added.
High risk categories include children age six to 59 months of age (i.e., 6 months-4 years), adults over 65 and individuals living with chronic illness.
Concern over the flu spreading to residents at the Yalobusha Nursing Home prompted the posting of a sign on the door which reads: If you have the flu or flu-like symptons, please refrain from visiting.
The MSDH is encouraging anyone – especially those in high-risk categories – who hasn’t had a flu vaccination to get one now.”
In addition, those who live with or take care of people who fall in one of these categories should also receive the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine usually prevents the flu in between 70 and 90 percent of healthy persons, and lessens the severity of illness in those people who receive the vaccine and contract the virus later.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat and congestion. Ill persons should be brought to their healthcare provider at the first sign of flu-like illness. If begun within the first 48 hours of illness, treatment can reduce its symptoms and duration.
All persons should practice health etiquette to avoid spreading illness. This includes frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home and away from well people when ill.
For more information regarding the influenza vaccine and influenza illness, contact the Mississippi State Department of Health at 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948) or visit online at www.HealthyMS.com.