An unwanted annual visitor is back.
Doctors in Augusta are beginning to see the first positive cases of influenza show up in their offices. Robert Clark of the Center for Primary Care-Crossroads office said there were cases Thursday and again Monday that tested positive for flu on a rapid test in the office.
"We wanted to let people know that true flu is going around in the community," Dr. Clark said.
Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics has seen two or three suspected flu cases among adults but none so far in children, and none has been confirmed, said spokeswoman Deborah Humphrey. Doctors Hospital and Trinity Hospital of Augusta have not seen any positive cases this season. Neither has University Hospital, said spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester.
"(But) we expect some any day now," she said.
In its last FluView survey for the week ending Nov. 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed both Georgia and South Carolina as "no activity" for flu. Twenty-two states, including Florida, are reporting sporadic activity, and Hawaii is reporting a slightly higher level than that.
Christmas is usually when doctors expect to see the first flu cases, Dr. Clark said.
"It's a little early," he said. That should spur more people to go out and get flu shots if they have not already received them, he said. It takes about two weeks for the immune protection to build up after a flu shot.
The CDC agrees; the agency has named this week National Influenza Vaccination Week in an effort to encourage more people to get flu shots. Today is Children's Vaccination Day. Thursday will be devoted to getting more seniors vaccinated, and Friday will focus on health care workers.
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In addition to getting a flu shot, following good hygiene practices can cut down your risk of getting the flu.
- Wash hands often, and try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, if possible. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve and try to avoid using your hands. Wash your hands after you cough or sneeze.
- Keep your distance from those who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home to avoid infecting others.
Sources: American Lung Association; Minnesota Department of Health