By: WCTV Eyewitness News
February 1, 2018
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed three flu-related deaths in the South Health District.
The South Health District covers 10 south Georgia counties, 4 of which are in the WCTV viewing area; Brooks, Echols, Lanier and Lowndes Counties.
DPH says the three deaths are the first confirmed flu-related deaths in the district this flu season. Officials say the victims were all adults, ranging in age from 18 years old, up to 95 years old.
"Our hearts go out to the families that have lost a loved-one. We will not release the county of death or any type of identifying information, other than an age range," says Courtney Sheeley, DPH communications specialist.
As of January 31, health officials have confirmed 37 flu-related deaths throughout Georgia so far this flu season. That number is expected to grow.
District epidemiologist Kenneth Lowery says the H3N2 strain seen this year can be particularly hard on the very young, people over the age of 65, or anyone with existing medical conditions. Symptoms can include cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever. One of the flu's signature symptoms is an overall feeling of achiness and discomfort that begins suddenly.
Lowery says the peak of flu season normally begins in January and runs through late February or early March. However, it is not unheard of for the flu season to be longer, even extending into May in years past.
Sheeley says, "This disease is affecting people statewide…it doesn’t matter where you live. Our message remains the same: everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and stay home if you’re sick to eliminate the spread of the disease.”
For more information on how you can protect yourself from the flu virus, visit www.cdc.gov.