JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) reports the first laboratory confirmed influenza case of the 2007-2008 season. The presence of influenza in a sample from a patient in the Forrest county virus was documented at the MSDH Laboratory on Friday.
“The best protection against the flu is the vaccine,” said Interim State Health Officer Dr. Ed Thompson. “Confirming our first case tells us that flu is here, so If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, it’s time to get it now. Thompson noted that the “flu shot” takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and that although flu season usually peaks in January through March, it sometime reaches high levels as early as December.
Health departments and clinics throughout Mississippi began distributing the flu vaccine in mid-October. The charge for flu vaccination is $25. Medicare Part B covers the cost of flu vaccination, so those with Medicare Part B should bring their cards with them to the clinic. Children ages six months through 18 years can receive flu vaccinations for $10.
Health officials monitor flu through the Influenza-Like Illness Sentinel System, made up of 53 healthcare providers in Mississippi such as family practice clinics, student health centers, pediatricians, infectious disease specialists and emergency medicine personnel, to report flu-like symptoms into a statewide database.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, and often, extreme fatigue. Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present.
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also help to help reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you are sick and washing your hands frequently.
To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com or call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948).