HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - We have not reached the peak of flu season, but the CDC reported a widespread outbreak of the flu in 46 states and more than 40,000 cases confirmed and counting. In our state, eight out of the nine health districts reported an increase in cases.
The Mississippi State Department of Health said the flu is three times more prevalent now than this time last year. Merit Health Wesley's Hospitalist Dr. Deepu Thoppil said the statistics aren't any better here in the Pine Belt.
"The flu is truly an epidemic not just in our country, but particularly in our state of Mississippi," Thoppil said.
Thoppil said the hospital has seen more cases than the typical flu season.
"It's certainly put a tremendous amount of patients in the hospital that have been very sick, which we didn't see in previous flu seasons," he said.
Thoppil said this is the worst season since the peak of the 2014-2015 flu season, so stopping the increase of cases cannot happen fast enough. He recommended people do this right now.
"If you haven't gotten it, go get the flu shot. Good hand washing is always a good policy," Thoppil said. "If you are coughing and sneezing, whether you have the symptoms or not, make sure that you are covering up as best as you can."
Thoppil said see your doctor immediately if you feel very fatigued or have these signs.
"A cough, body aches, fevers are often seen but not always, chills, and signs of upper respiratory congestion," Thoppil said.
Thoppil said if you recognize these symptoms see your doctor and stay home if you're sick. He said if you got a flu shot and still got the flu here's why.
"The flu vaccine basically prevents certain strains that we naturally have chosen to try and prevent people from getting sick, it doesn't mean every single strain is covered," Thoppil said.
However, doctors including Thoppil said the shot is the best preventative measure if you haven't had the flu, and getting the flu shot may make the symptoms less severe if you get the flu.
For South Central Regional Medical Center,Chief Quality Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs added this.
"The South Central Health System has seen a significant increase in flu diagnosis and admissions this year as compared to last year," Dobbs said.
And Hattiesburg Clinic offered more insight to the outbreak.
"Some of our immediate care and family medicine departments have reported seeing significant increases in flu cases over recent weeks, even up from an average year," he said.
For more statistics from the Mississippi State Department of Health click here.