Two adults, one child die of flu as virus ravages Alabama
The Alabama Department of Health reports that two adults and one child have died from flu-like illnesses this season as the virus continues to circulate in the state.
In his weekly flu report, ADPH stated that all districts in the state saw significant flu activity. Statewide, the flu-like illness rate rose to 11.54% last week from 10.9% during the week of Oct. 24.
“This is the most flu activity we’ve seen early in the season since the 2009 A/H1N1 flu pandemic,” Wes Stubblefield, pediatrician and county medical officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said in a news release.
More than 100 flu outbreaks were reported last week, according to ADPH. Youth ages 5-24 accounted for the largest number of outpatient visits, with the Southeast region and Jefferson County reporting the highest number of visits last week.
“Influenza outpatient visits increased more than 10-fold between September and October and showed no signs of slowing in the first five days of November,” said Nola Ernest, president of the Alabama chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
According to ADPH, the flu is particularly severe in young children, resulting in a “surge in admissions” to Alabama Children’s.
“[Hospitalizations] included those patients who required ventilation, and some were so severe that ECMO support was required,” said Michele Kong, director of the Pediatric Critical Care Research Program at Children’s.
Hospitalization can be a consequence of dehydration and difficulty breathing, respiratory failure and inflammation of the heart or brain.
Officials say it’s not too late in the season to get a flu shot, and the shot is still recommended.
The ADPH recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot to best protect themselves against the virus, adding that the vaccine is especially important for adults 65 and older, children under 5, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems and people with chronic diseases. such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease.
Along with the flu shot, which takes about two weeks to provide full protection, the CDC recommends the following preventive measures:
- Avoid close contact with sick people. When you are sick, stay away from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits such as cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, getting enough sleep, being physically active, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious foods.
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