National News

Officials: Flu outbreak in Georgia has huge impact on people 50+

Posted January 31, 2018 8:26 p.m. EST

— The flu outbreak is widespread in Georgia impacting more than 80 percent of people over the age of 50.

"Don't reach up and rub your eyes, your nose, your mouth or mucus membranes because flu virus can get on there and then you pass it to somebody else," said Dr. Patrick O'Neal.

According to the State Department of Public Health, the flu virus is responsible for 37 deaths and nearly 700 hospitalizations so far this season.

"The proportion of patients being seen in doctor's offices and ER departments for influenza like illness increased each week by six percent the first week of January to nine percent the second week of January to 12 percent the third week of January," said Epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek.

Health officials stressed the importance of good hygiene and getting a flu shot to help limit the spread of the virus.

"We want the public to understand that it's not too late to get the flu shot if in fact one hasn't taken it yet," said O'Neal.

But O'Neal also believes some people may be more susceptible to the flu today than they were 20 years ago prior to the use of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes.

"We may indeed have not allowed significant immune reactions to have previously occurred so that when one does come across an agent like the flu virus, potentially there could be less ability for that person to respond," said O'Neal. "That varies tremendously though from one individual to another."