What to know ahead of Thanksgiving amid rising flu activity
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Chances are, you’ve had the flu or know someone who has. A flu activity map from the CDC shows Mississippi is in the “very high” activity level range for the week ending November 12.
“There’s a lot of flu in the community,” said Dr. W. Mark Horne, Chief Medical Officer at South Central Medical Center. “It’s everywhere. It’s going to be difficult to avoid being exposed to it.”
Maybe that has you rethinking putting off that shot.
“The biggest issue with the flu shot is it does take a couple of weeks to take full effect,” noted Dr. Laura Miller, a family physician in Prentiss, MS. “I would not want to stop anybody from getting the flu shot right now because we want to go ahead and get it. Just know that the protection won’t necessarily be there by Thanksgiving.”
The focus has been on COVID the last couple of years. So, you may have forgotten some flu basics. For example, what happens if you travel to grandma’s for the holiday and, bam, flu symptoms show up?
“If people become ill, the biggest thing is obviously separate from family members to the best of your ability,” added Miller. “Because when you’re sick, and you have the symptoms, you’re really not sure what you may have.”
Sudden symptom onset is most likely flu; however, Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Baptist Memorial Health Care Medical Director of Infectious Disease, says there is more to the story.
“It tends to be almost everybody has a headache, and they develop muscle aches, and typically a cough, sometimes dry cough, and a lot of times fever, of course, as well,” said Dr. Threlkeld. “But right now, we have the flu. We have respiratory syncytial virus. We have COVID.”
Use common sense if you think you may have any of those, and there is some of the same advice as what you heard at the height of the pandemic.
“I think one of the most important things to remember this Thanksgiving is, let’s be careful of those most vulnerable people, the kids under six months, you know, and the elderly in our house. They’re always kind of the most sensitive to infections and to damaging infections,” added Threlkeld.
Also, notify anyone if you come down with symptoms once you’ve left the gathering.
“If you think you may have flu and you’ve been around others, you may have exposed people at risk,” explained Dr. Horne. “Get tested. Easy to do. That’s number one. Number two, get treated because there are good effective treatments, things like Tamiflu. And then of course, notify the people that you may have exposed, particularly those that risk those who are significantly older, significantly younger, may not have had a flu vaccine or are not tolerant of the vaccine, or who might not have a good response to it. Or people who just have diseases that put them in an increased risk. Make sure they know because you care about them.”
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