Health

Flu Lingers But Is Dropping Significantly In Georgia

Lab technologist Sharda Modi tests a patient's swab last month for a flu infection at Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Georgia. Hospitalizations for flu in the eight-county metro Atlanta area dropped to 49 during the week of Feb. 18-24. The number had been 91 the week before.
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The latest Georgia data continue to show the flu epidemic trending downward in the state.

Hospitalizations for flu in the eight-county metro Atlanta area dropped to 49 during the week of Feb. 18-24. The number had been 91 the week before. And the proportion of outpatient visits for flu-like illness in Georgia during the same period dipped to 6.5 percent, from 11.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll from this flu season increased to 118 from 98, the state’s Department of Public Health reported. Included in the total are four pediatric deaths.

That total is double the 58 deaths the state recorded in 2009, the first year when all flu deaths here had to be reported to Georgia Public Health.

Nationally, the disease is “widespread” in 45 states and Puerto Rico. But health officials in Oregon, Minnesota, Texas, New Hampshire, Hawaii and the District of Columbia report that they’re seeing only regional or local flu activity.

“That’s a very good sign that activity is decreasing. There still is a lot of flu out there,” Dr. Alicia Fry, who works in the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday, according to NPR.

Nationally, the CDC reported 17 flu deaths among children last week, bringing the total pediatric deaths to 114.

“We could have six more weeks of flu. Now, it could be shorter. We don’t know. It’s really hard to predict flu, but it could be a month and a half,” Fry said.

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News