Widespread Flu Outbreak Hits Florida, Georgia

By  | 

Get out the hand sanitizer and arm yourself with some tissues. Doctors in Florida, Georgia and Alabama are reporting widespread flu outbreaks.

Health officials say influenza is no laughing matter, especially for those over fifty or people with weak immune systems.

"In an average year in this country, a typical year, there are about 36 thousand people who die from flu or its complications," said Ann Waltz, registered nurse at the Leon County Health Department.

Elderly and young children are at high risk and those who work around them like teachers say they've got to be extra careful, too.

"They're always sneezing and coughing. They don't cover their mouth and they touch everything so I carry an antibacterial soap with me wherever I go," said elementary school teacher Ana Garcia.

Antibacterial gel is a good idea along with washing your hands. Joe Blackstone who is a waiter in Tallahassee says he's constantly washing with soap and water.

"What I usually do is wash my hands every time I touch money or keep a good distance between me and people who are sick."

Bartender Day Harrington is the same way.

"I work in the food service industry so I'm touching other people's food and drinks all the time so I just wash my hands excessively every 30 seconds rushing over to the sink."

Sometimes the best defense is getting a flu shot. Right now the Leon County Health Department has a plentiful supply.

"I got the flu shot this year and knock on wood I haven't gotten sick," said Garcia.

Some people are afraid the flu vaccine will give you the flu. That’s not true. In Leon County, the injection is an inactive strain.

If you're looking for a flu shot, call your health care provider. If they're out, call the Leon County Health Department at (850) 487-3155.