Flu widespread throughout city, state

Published 12:02 am Thursday, January 10, 2013

Alabama is among the states with the highest reported flu and flu-like virus cases in the nation – a fact confirmed Wednesday by local health officials as the viruses continue to spread throughout the county.

Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious viral infection that affects all age groups, although children tend to get it more often than adults.

Flu season is from October to May, with most cases presenting between December and March. The flu is often confused with the common cold, but flu symptoms tend to be more severe.

Reports from the Centers with Disease Control (CDC) for the week ending Nov. 24 showed that five states – Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee reported a “high” activity level. By the end of December, that number jumped to include 36 states.

“As you could see, we are well into flu season,” said Andalusia Regional Hospital’s Bobbie Meyer. “We performed a total of 172 flu tests for the month of December. Of those, 31 tested positive Type A and one tested positive for Type B.

“By the numbers, 18 percent of those tested were positive, so please make sure you are washing your hands. And remember, if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s still not too late.”

The flu virus is spread by infected droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air. People who have the flu are contagious from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms have ended. To prevent the flu from spreading, remember to wash hands, stay home from school or work if believed to be infected, and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; however, the best way to prevent the flu is getting the flu vaccine.

Meyer said the hospital still has flu shots available.

Vaccines are also available at area physician offices, pharmacies and the county health department.