Flu spreading through area

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Center for Disease Control announced something this week that most people could see if they took a trip to the grocery store or looked over the absence sheet at any of Warren County’s schools — influenza cases in Mississippi are widespread.

The Magnolia State is one of 44 in the U.S. experiencing a flu outbreak that has left hundreds sick and caused at least one death since October, which is widely regarded as the beginning of flu season. Ashley Dial, a 28-year-old from Meridian, reportedly died of complications from influenza earlier in the year.

The CDC releases a weekly report on the disease, and the most recently released data for the week of Jan. 18-24 shows the highest peak in influenza-like illness in Mississippi this year. The number of flu-like cases increased by 1.3 percent over the previous week and is almost 6 percent higher than it was last year at this time.

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The Walgreens Flu Index reported last week that the Jackson area, which includes Vicksburg, was one of the top ten highest areas for flu activity in the country last week.

The index “reports market-specific, hyper-local data on the movement of flu activity in the U.S., by leveraging its national prescription database across more than 8,000 stores, and ranking regions experiencing the highest incidences of influenza across the country,” according to its website.

There have been 93 reports of influenza in Mississippi last week out of 14, 875 total patients. Over one thousand of those endured flu-like symptoms, making Mississippi one of the most active flu sites in the United States.

Regular signs of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue. The flu is spread through droplets created when people who are infected with the disease transport it by coughing, sneezing or talking.

According to the CDC, the influenza virus spreads rapidly and is able to spread one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after being infected.

The flu vaccination is the only sure way to combat the virus, but other measures can be taken to help prevent it, including washing your hands regularly and covering your nose and mouth when sneezing.

Among infectious diseases, flus is considered one of the nation’s leading causes of death, killing roughly 24,000 people a year on average.

If preliminary data is any indication, the disease is likely to continue spreading in Mississippi as flu season hits its peak.

Warren County is located in District V of the CDC’s report, which saw a 1.4 percent increase in influenza cases last week.

To read the full weekly report or learn more information on the flu virus, visit the CDC’s official website at www.cdc.gov.