Officials prepare for potentially early flu season

Officials prepare for potentially early flu season

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - Dr. Benjamin Burkett with Merit Health Wesley is getting ready for what could be a busy flu season.

"Late October is when it usually starts, but it can happen any time of the year," Dr. Burkett explained.

That's exactly the case. Nearly 90 students at Southern Miss have tested positive for the virus.

"This is an environment on a college dormitory area, or a college environment in general," Dr. Burkett said. "Folks are in pretty close contact with one another. It can pass it right along."

Dr. Burkett said the elderly and the very young are most at risk, so it's important to know the symptoms.

"Some people report a high-grade fever, but it doesn't have to be, sometimes it can just be a low grade fever, headaches, muscle aches, often accompanied by runny nose and sneezing," Dr. Burkett added.

He said there are number of ways to protect yourself from the virus.

"Make sure you wash your hands frequently, cover your nose and your mouth when you cough when you have a runny nose," Dr. Burkett said.

Dr. Burkett said the best line of defense is the flu shot.

"I think it's a very good idea to go ahead and get the influenza vaccination, and the reason is, there are still quite a number of deaths throughout the United States from the flu," Dr. Burkett said.