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As the traditional peak flu season approaches, Gwinnett County has already experienced an outbreak of the infection that typically affects the elderly and young children.
Through Monday, nine people in Gwinnett have died from an influenza-associated illness since Oct. 1, the start of flu season, according to the Gwinnett Health Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that flu tests are up across the Southeast, and it’s considered “widespread” in Georgia.
“It’s not too late to get your flu shot,” Alana Sulka, a registered nurse and director of Epidemiology for the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments said in a news release. “Getting a flu shot is one of the most important things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu.”
Earlier this month, the CDC reported that flu activity in the Southeast was elevated, with 21.5 percent of people reported positive for the flu.
While last year the predominent strain was H3N2, health officials said one strain that’s been documented this year is the H1N1 strain, that tends to affect the young and middle-aged adult population.
“In addition to encouraging flu shots in the young, elderly, and individuals with chronic medical conditions, we want to encourage young and middle-aged adults to make sure they are protected, too,” Sulka said.
Flu season normally peaks in January and February, but can last until May,” Sulka said.
Flu vaccines are available at many places, including all Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Department locations, except the Lilburn WIC Clinic and Preventive Health Clinic. Locations and hours are available on the web site www.gnrhealth.com.
Health officials also recommended tips to avoid the flu and help stop the spread of germs, such as wash your hands and cover your cough. If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
Wash your hands
Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Wash hands after coughing and sneezing, after caring for ill individuals, after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Cover your cough
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or inner elbow or upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
Put your used tissue in the waste basket.
Wash your hands after you cough or sneeze.