How you can fight the flu

Published 12:06 am Sunday, February 6, 2011

The flu is circulating and area medical clinics and schools say they’ve had an increase in cases and severity.

“We’ve had about eight to 10 people coming in every day with symptoms, and it’s taking them a while to get over it too,” said Deb Barrett, one of the office managers at Dr. J. Kevin Ingram’s family practice clinic in Vidalia. “Ninety-nine percent of people who have come in with flu symptoms test positive.”

Kim Trisler, a nurse practitioner at Dr. Ingram’s family practice, said she advises patients to always cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing, and be sure to throw the tissue away.

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“If you can’t get to any soap and water, use an alcohol-based handrub,” Trisler said. “Avoid contact with sick people, and if you get the flu, stay at home for 24 hours. A fever should go away on its own without fever-reducing medicines.”

Registered nurse and Natchez-Adams County School District Nurse Coordinator Marla Farmer said flu-prevention tips were posted on the district’s website last week. Parents can visit and click “Take three preventative steps to fight the flu,” to download the information from the Centers for Disease Control.

The first step is, take time to get a flu vaccine. The second step suggests taking preventative actions to stop the spread of germs (washing hands and using tissues). Third, take antiviral drugs if the doctor prescribes them.

“We’re seeing a big increase of the flu in Mississippi,” Farmer said. “We strongly encourage everyone above 6 months of age to get a flu vaccination, unless they have some type of autoimmune disorder.”

Farmer said parents should take children with flu symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat or chills to a physician as soon as possible to start anti-flu medications.

Morgantown Elementary School Nurse Katrina Maier said she encourages students to practice good hand washing to impede the spread of the flu.

“We tell them to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ while they wash their hands with soap,” Maier said. “The idea is for students to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, get between fingers and really rub, don’t just rinse.”

Natchez Pediatrician Dr. David A. Timm, said early screenings of flu types are conducted along the East Coast, which is where the three main flu vaccines originate.

“The more flu vaccines you get, the more you’re covered,” Timm said.

But alternative flu types emerge in different areas, so a vaccination is not a guarantee, Timm said.

Timm also noted that some people can be asymptomatic carriers, which means you might not feel sick, but you can still spread the flu.

“Remember, how sick you get depends on three factors,” Timm said. “How susceptible you are, how bad of a bug it is and how big of a dose you get.”