Flu on the rise in the area

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 4, 2016

The flu had been relatively dormant in Lafayette County until the past couple weeks, but now doctors are reporting an uptick in cases diagnosed.

“It looked for a while it might just pass us by,” said Urgent Care Clinic of Oxford Dr. Will Dabbs. “We had a little spurt of flu back in October, then nothing until maybe two weeks ago. It has been a bit of a deluge since then.”

Jondi Roberson, director of marketing for Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi, said their system has reported a “significant increase in cases of the flu in the past two weeks.”

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She encouraged residents to get a flu shot, because it isn’t too late, and to get to the doctor for Tamiflu as soon as possible.

“Tamiflu is not a cure for the flu but it fights the flu virus in the body and may lessen symptoms and shorten the time you’re sick,” Roberson said. “Don’t wait for things to get worse; contact your doctor immediately.”

Dabbs said the strain going around has the fairy typical flu symptoms, so if you feel like you have the flu, you might be right.

“Fevers, dry cough, aches, and congestion along with just feeling generally wretched,” Dabbs said. “We have seen a fair number of folks with the flu who had the shot but, it was really late this year so maybe this year’s shot contributed to postponing its onset.”

He said also on the rise are the seasonal crud and colds that sometimes are mistaken for the flu.

“The perfect weather for head colds is wet and chilly and we have had that in abundance lately,” he said. “It keeps people indoors so they swap germs and folks in close quarters will tend to fan these little mini outbreaks.”

Dabbs said to wash hands compulsively, get your flu shot and don’t touch your face and your chances of picking up the flu are lessened.

“The mechanism of transmission for head colds and flu is respiratory droplets,” he said. “Somebody coughs or sneezes into their hands then opens a door. Somebody else opens the same door and scratches their nose and there you have it. Our uniquely human compulsion with shaking hands helps pass this stuff around as well. The virus goes from one nose to their hands to someone else’s hands to their nose or eyes and takes off in a new host.”

Dabbs said if you feel like you’re sick, get to the doctor within the first two days of serious symptoms so Tamiflu can be an option. If you have an upper respiratory infection, get antibiotics so the infection doesn’t progress into pneumonia.

At the schools

Luckily, the school systems have not seen a major increase in sick and absent students.

Lafayette County School District Superintencent Adam Peugh said he has not seen many flu cases at all. Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey said even if the flu hits the community, it usually runs its course and the schools are relatively unaffected.

“Our attendance numbers are actually better this year than they were last year,” he said. “We may be down one half of a percentage point over the last few days, but we have not seen a major epidemic.”

Harvey said if illness surges, one good thing is spring break is upcoming and students can get rest at home.

“We will continue to encourage students to wash their hands and to cover their mouths when they cough,” he said.

Meg Hayden, lead school nurse for the district, is stationed at the high school and said parents have been contacting her mainly about students winding up with mono, strep throat and the stomach virus more than the flu.

She said she encourages the students to practice good habits in order to avoid those illnesses and the flu.

“I try to encourage the older kids at high school to have good hand-washing before and after meals, not sharing drinks or food with friends,” she said. “That’s really what I try to focus on as far as school. With the younger kids you might have to remind them more to cover their mouth if they cough or sneeze.”