(The following is a press release from the Mississippi State Department of Health.)
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting its first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2018-2019 flu season. The case was reported in an adult.
While flu cases have been diagnosed and treated by healthcare providers throughout the state already this season, this is the first case confirmed in the MSDH Public Health Laboratory, detected through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System.
Individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, but the agency monitors flu activity through the ILI System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH lab. State health officials use this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.
“This not only indicates that flu is present in the state, but it also serves as a reminder that now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already,” said MSDH Interim State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs. “The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and flu season usually peaks in January through March in Mississippi.”
“Last year an estimated 80,000 adults nationwide died from the flu, with 183 influenza deaths in children – three of which were in Mississippi,” said Dr. Dobbs. “We know that nationally, 80 percent of the pediatric deaths were in children who were not vaccinated against the flu. Flu vaccine is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications, hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”
Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is accepted for children’s flu shots.
Only those adults who are underinsured or uninsured and who meet certain high-risk criteria qualify for a flu vaccine at MSDH county health department clinics. Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians, pharmacies, and retailers.
“Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses. It is especially important for persons at high risk and those in close contact with them to be vaccinated to prevent the severe complications that can come with infection,” said Dr. Dobbs.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu without complications, but nationwide there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations from flu each year.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.
To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu, visit the MSDH website at HealthyMS.com/flu.