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Flu season and cases rampant in Golden Triangle, state


CLPN Tamaria Clay administers a flu shot to co-worker LPN Teena Young at Laird Clinic in Starkville Thursday. Officials say flu cases this year are up significantly.

CLPN Tamaria Clay administers a flu shot to co-worker LPN Teena Young at Laird Clinic in Starkville Thursday. Officials say flu cases this year are up significantly. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff


Slim Smith



Not everyone in Caledonia has had the flu this winter. 


It just seems like it. 


"We probably see 25 people a week coming in with flu symptoms," said Audra Armistead, a pharmacist at Caledonia Pharmacy, the only pharmacy in the town of 1,100 people. "It's bad. People are coming in to fill prescriptions for Tami-flu or cough and cold prescriptions. There's an herbal remedy that people are asking for, but we're out of stock and have it back-ordered. Between the flu and strep (throat) it seems like everybody in town is sick." 


While not everyone has the flu, this year's flu season has been seen more cases than normal, based on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi Department of Health. 


Flu cases are identified as persons with a fever of 100 degrees or higher with symptoms of coughs or sore throats. Using that measure, 37 states are considered to have widespread flu outbreaks after a sharp rise in cases in December. 


Mississippi's flu rate spiked considerably last month, more than doubling from 6 percent to 12.2 percent. The percentage is based on the number of patients reporting flu symptoms compared to other patients. The 12.2 percent is the highest in the state in at least four years, according to the data. 


Those numbers are consistent with what staff at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle is seeing. 


"We've had a 15-percent increase in volume this past month," said Dr. Keith McCoy, emergency medicine director at the Columbus hospital. "According to the CDC, the flu strain, A (H3N2), had been associated with more deaths and hospitalizations in people 65 and older, as well as young children. We want to educate everyone it is not too late to get the flu vaccination. Also, quick treatment is crucial, so please seek care by a primary care provider within two days of the onset of symptoms." 


Teena Young, a nurse at Laird Clinic of Family Medicine in Starkville, said treating flu patients had become a daily occurrence. 


"Even people who have had flu shots are coming in with symptoms," Young said. "But that doesn't mean you shouldn't get a flu shot. We still recommend it. You might still get the flu if you have the vaccine, but it's not going to be as severe." 


Because flu is a respiratory disease caused by a virus, the cold weather may make some people more prone to the disease. 


"I guess it could be both ways," Young said. "If it's cold, you're not out as much and you might not come into contact with people who have the flu. On the other hand, if you're stuck at home and someone in your house has the flu, you're more likely to get it." 



Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]



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