Flu spreading across state

CONYERS — Germs are spreading throughout the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that positive influenza tests in the Southeast increased by 23 percent.

The CDC reported that the state of Georgia moved into the “widespread” category for flu due to more than 400 people being hospitalized and nine confirmed flu-related deaths as of Jan. 3

“It’s not too late to get your flu shot,” said Alana Sulka, director of Epidemiology for the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments. “Getting a flu shot is one of the most important things you can do to protect you and your family from the flu.”

This year one of the current flu strains is H1N1, which tends to affect the young and middle-aged adult population. Protection against H1N1 is included in this year’s vaccine.

“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 continued. “Flu season normally peaks in January and February, and can last until May. So there is still time to be vaccinated and receive protection.”

Flu vaccines are available at all Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Department locations except the Lilburn WIC Clinic. Locations and hours are available at www.gnrhealth.com.

Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Department Communications Director Karen Shields gave some advice on how to prevent spreading germs:

“Wash your hands and cover your cough. And if you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, without the use of a fever-reducing medicine,” Shields said.

• 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 mouth and nose with a tissue or inner elbow or upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze.