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Pharmacies see rise in Tamiflu prescriptions

A new shipment of Tamiflu sits on the counter as Kmart pharmacy manager Irish Lytle fills out a prescription Monday afternoon. Lytle said she has seen a marked rise in Tamiflu prescriptions in the last few days. The Kmart pharmacy was one of the few pharmacies that had antiviral medication this weekend. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

A new shipment of Tamiflu sits on the counter as Kmart pharmacy manager Irish Lytle fills out a prescription Monday afternoon. Lytle said she has seen a marked rise in Tamiflu prescriptions in the last few days. The Kmart pharmacy was one of the few pharmacies that had antiviral medication this weekend. (Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Despite warmer weather and budding flowers, one winter pest refuses to leave — the flu.

Recently, the Miss-Lou has seen a surge in residents with flu-like symptoms. Irish Lytle, pharmacy manager at the Natchez Kmart, said this flu season has been more severe — and longer — than last year.

“I probably had 10 people come in with the flu this past weekend,” Lytle said. “It’s been really busy.”

With this recent increase, Lytle said many area pharmacies have low supplies of Tamiflu, an antiviral medication that blocks types A and B influenza. Kmart was one of few pharmacies with Tamiflu in stock Saturday and Sunday.

“Most of the people coming in here have been coughing like crazy,” said Lytle, adding that fever, nausea and body aches have been other popular symptoms.

And while the flu is typically seen in young children and older adults, Lytle said this year’s virus doesn’t discriminate.

“This weekend, I saw young adults come in too,” Lytle said. “It’s not really holding to any specific age this year.”

Even if residents received a flu vaccination, Lytle said they could still catch the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one reason the flu is more severe this year could be the types of flu strains circulating. The most common strain of flu this season is H3N2, a subtype of type A.

For Natchez resident Taylor McGlothin, 22, the flu has hit especially close to home as her 16-year-old brother, Evan Sanders, was diagnosed with both A and B strains Saturday.

“After he got sick, I started experiencing symptoms over the weekend, so I decided to come in today to get checked,” McGlothin said while sitting in the waiting room of the Natchez After Hours Clinic Monday afternoon.

Since Friday, McGlothin said she has been coughing heavily and feeling weak. And although she usually doesn’t get the flu shot, McGlothin said this is her first time to come in contact with the virus.

As of Feb. 6, the CDC reported that on a national level, flu-like symptoms were declining. However, some regional areas — Mississippi included — are still seeing increases.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, no flu-associated deaths have been reported this year, though.

As flu season continues, Lytle urged residents to wash their hands frequently and to stay home if they experience any flu-like symptoms.

“Just be smart, and try to avoid people who may have the flu,” Lytle said. “This has been a weird season (for the flu), and we’re not sure when it will end.”

Most pharmacies, Lytle said, receive shipments of Tamiflu at the beginning of the week, and should be fully stocked now.