The flu is hitting Georgia earlier and harder this year than in previous years. The early onset of the H3N2 flu is one indication of a potentially severe flu season. Symptoms of the flu include 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. Some Georgia school systems are reporting high absenteeism due to flu-like illnesses.
The single most effective way to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine closely matches the strains of flu circulating in Georgia making it effective in preventing the flu or minimizing its symptoms. Every healthy individual over the age of 6 months should get a flu vaccine.
Frequent and thorough hand washing also will help guard against the flu. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if there is no access to soap and water. 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.
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 (Tylenol) for at least 24 hours before returning to work or school.
Based on the early arrival of the flu, this flu season could be a long one. Peak flu season is usually the end of January and runs through late February or early March.