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Flu sweeps through county

As Christmas cheer is being spread through Troup County, so is the flu. The Influenza-Like Illness indicator for Georgia was moderate for the week of Dec. 3 to Dec. 9.

“It’s that time of year. It is flu season, so we know that’s circulating, the flu virus has been circulating for a while,” said Hayla Folden, public information officer for District 4 of the Georgia Department of Health.

Symptoms of the flu are often similar to symptoms of other illnesses, Folden said. Fever and body aches are major symptoms for the flu, while cough, running nose, nausea, headaches and fatigue are common.

“And with that fever, most of the time people will feel okay. They’ll have the running nose, the headache, the cough the sore throat and then they’ll suddenly spike a fever, and it will go high and stay up,” Folden said. “Because you can have a sore throat and strep throat, or you can have a sore throat and have sinus drainage, there’s a lot of things these symptoms are similar to — so many other things that could be out there in the community right now that you could be catching. So, if it’s a fever spiking and then the body aches that are really going to clue you in that that’s the flu.”

Sometimes the flu can be spread from a person before their symptoms show, according to Folden.

“You may be able to pass the flu before you’re sick. People with the flu are most contagious in the first three to four days after their illness begins,” she said. “Otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect other beginning one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after becoming sick.”

Those at high risk of developing complications from the flu should see their doctors. People at high risk are those 65 and older, those with chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes, pregnant women and young children.

“Your doctor may recommend antivirals. Antivirals will shorten the time frame of your symptoms, so that’s something you could do,” Folden said. “As soon as you start having symptoms and think they may be have the flu, you need to talk to a physician.”

Those with the flu should stay home and rest and drink plenty of clear fluids.

“Stay home at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical and other necessities,” Folden said. “In other words, we don’t want other people out finishing their Christmas shopping if they have the flu. We’re trying to avoid dehydration. Make sure you don’t get dehydrated.”

To avoid getting the flu, people should make sure to wash their hands, especially if they’re taking care of someone infected.

“Avoid handling other people’s tissues or avoid being face to face with a sick person. That’s easier said than done, but if someone is coughing or sneezing avoid being right up in their face when they’re coughing or sneezing,” she said. “If you have to be around sick children, place their chin on your shoulder, so they’re not coughing in your face.”

For those infected who have children, Folden said they can prevent spreading illness by separating their drinkware.

“We’re going to try to keep our cups and things up higher, out of the way or give them their own separate cups, making sure our kids are not drinking after us if we’re sick,” she said.

Cleaning door knobs and bathroom knobs, sanitizing and washing hands after handling tissues should help prevent spreading illness in the home.

“Washing your hands will do a whole lot of good,” Folden said. “If you have young children teach them to wash their hands. If they’re washing their hands and are trying to keep their hands out of their face, and you wash your hands as often (as possible) is probably the best way to avoid spreading it.”