The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting its first confirmed cases of influenza (flu) in the state for the 2013-2014 flu season. According to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory, all of the confirmed cases are influenza A (2009 H1N1) and are covered by the current flu vaccine.
“We are now starting to see confirmed flu cases in Mississippi. This not only indicates that flu has been detected in the state, but it also serves as a reminder that now is the best time to get your flu shot,” said State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. “The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and although flu season usually peaks in January through March, it sometimes reaches high levels as early as December.”
While individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi such as family practice clinics, student health centers, pediatricians, primary care physicians, and hospital emergency departments who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.
Healthcare providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory. MSDH uses this information to determine the spread of flu in the state.
Flu vaccine is currently available at all county health departments. While the flu shot is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children 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/flu.
Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.
Press Contact: MSDH Office of Communications, (601) 576-7667
Note to media: After hours or during emergencies, call 1-866-HLTHY4U (1-866-458-4948)