Flu hits county

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2009

At least 15 Covington County children have tested positive for Type “A” influenza — also known as the “flu” — since Friday.

Dr. Charles Eldridge of Covington Pediatrics said those 15 cases were isolated to two county schools, the names of which were not released because of privacy issues. Influenza can occur any time between November and March and is a “viral infection that spreads from person to person,” Eldridge said.

“And the cases we’re seeing it’s mostly middle schoolers to early high school aged children,” Eldridge said. “They all tested positive for Type A flu and none had a flu shot.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, dry cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose and muscle aches. The virus usually lasts for about a week, he said.

Early reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state this year’s flu vaccine is providing a good defense against the sickness, he said.

“This season has gotten off to a slow start,” he said. “And until this week, there were only reports of the flu in three states. The CDC is saying they believe the flu vaccine may have protected residents. Luckily for us, there have been hardly any reports of it in the county until now.”

Eldridge said the best defense is a good offense.

“The No. 1 way to prevent getting the flu is to get vaccinated,” he said. “Good hand hygiene; taking care of yourself; rest; eating right and staying away from people who are sick are a few other things you can do, but the key is the vaccination.”

The influenza vaccine is recommended for those 6 months old and older.

“We have plenty of them on hand, as do most physicians,” he said. “These vaccines appear to be working on about 75 percent of the strains of influenza.

“If you think you have the flu, the sooner you start the medicine, the more help it will give you,” he said. “The antivirals reduce the symptoms and length of illness, but you have to start it soon after showing symptoms.”

South Alabama Pediatrics reported that it has yet to see any flu cases in Opp.