Spread cheer this season — not the flu

Published 2:38 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

The Southwest Georgia Public Health District is wanting to send a message out to all Bainbridge and Decatur County residents: spread cheer and not the flu this holiday season.

While their message is catchy and seems easy enough, The Georgia Department of Public Health released a statement last week reporting the first two flu related deaths of the season in Georgia. Both deceased were adults.

Health care professionals at Memorial Hospital and Manor in Bainbridge are urging residents to play it safe this holiday season while visiting family and avoid this sickness that can sometimes turn deadly.

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“The best thing you can do is get vaccinated,” Jane Chesser, infection preventionist at Memorial said. “The second line of defense for the flu would be good hand washing.”

She said those with flu symptoms should not mingle and visit with people this holiday season — it spreads the virus. Those wanting to get the vaccination should do so, but Chesser said it takes at least a week for the vaccine to become effective so keep that in mind.

“We were hit pretty hard with flu cases early in this season. In mid-September we peaked out at the number we were seeing here at the hospital,” Chesser said. “It’s kind of winding down now, but there will probably be another wave coming in January and February.”

Chairman of the pediatrics department at Memorial, Dr. Winston Price, also predicted, based on previous years, that when children return to school from the holidays they usually see a peak in cases.

“There is generally a lull in cases of the flu and then it peaks again at the end of December going into January,” Price said. “People become complacent thinking the flu is over for this year. But we are going to see a major uptick as we approach the New Year.”

Price said residents should get vaccinated and there is no excuse not to. All clinics in the area have enough to go around, he said.

“Just remember the flu is not a minor illness,” Price said. “It can lead to serious hospitalization and even death for the very young the elderly and those with chronic disease, like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.”