Flu cases in Georgia continue to rise as students get ready to head back to school

Flu cases in Georgia continue to rise as students get ready to head back to school

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As flu season continues, Georgia ranks as the sickest state in the country according to health technology company Kinsa Health. This comes as many students are heading back to school from winter break this week.

Doctors say one of the flu’s challenges is that you could be carrying it a day before you are actually sick.

“Even healthy folks who think they’re healthy may actually be carriers and are spreading it, so that makes it even more difficult for the kiddos because your kids might go to school. They’re great and they may actually be transmitting or getting the flu from somebody,” said. Dr. Karla Owen who is a family physician with Piedmont.

Dr. Owen says she has seen flu cases pick up over the last few weeks. Similar to last year, this is considered a high flu season.

“The strain of the flu is what makes it worse than other seasons. Depending on the strain, it can make it for a milder flu season or for a more intense one," Dr. Owen explained.

Pamela Kirkland with the Columbus Health Department says even though we are in the middle of flu season, it is not too late to get a flu shot.

“This year it’s particularly helpful since the strain that we’re seeing is one of the strains in the vaccine, so the CDC always recommends everyone from six months of age older to get a flu shot," Kirkland said.

To avoid the flu, Doctor Owen says to wash your hands, sneeze and cough into a tissue and don’t touch your face with your hands.

“Routine cleaning of all hard services whether that’s your phone, your kitchen area, your child’s desk. Anything your child goes to school with and comes back with, clean everything," Dr. Owen said.

She says the main way the flu is spread is through respiratory particles. Dr. Owen says someone sick with the flu who is coughing or sneezing can spread the germs within a six-foot radius.

If you are not sure if you have the common cold or the flu, Dr. Owen says the flu has an abrupt onset and higher fever. The flu is something eight-year-old Abi Nichols hopes she never has again.

“I do wash my hands more often now and I eat healthier and I drink healthier because I don’t want to get the flu again," Nichols said.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there have been 15 flu-associated deaths since the end of September.

They also say anyone within a six-foot radius of someone coughing or sneezing with the flu is likely to get the flu.

Copyright 2020 WTVM. All rights reserved.