Meridian Star

October 25, 2012

MSDH confirms first influenza cases of season

From staff reports
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The presence of influenza in samples from patients in Harrison and Lamar counties was documented at the Mississippi State Department of Health Public Health Laboratory according to a news release issued this week.

    "We now have two confirmed flu cases in Mississippi. This not only indicates that flu has been detected in the state, but it also serves as a reminder that now is the best time to get your flu shot," said State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. "The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and although flu season usually peaks in January through March, it sometimes reaches high levels as early as December."

    Flu activity is monitored through the Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi such as family practice clinics, student health centers, pediatricians, primary care physicians, and hospital emergency departments that report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.

    MSDH uses this information to determine the spread of influenza in the state. Healthcare providers also submit respiratory samples for influenza testing to the MSDH Public Health Laboratory.

    Children ages six months through 18 years can receive flu vaccinations for $10 through the Vaccines for Children program. Seasonal flu vaccinations for adults are $25 at county health departments. High-dosage vaccinations for those 65 and older are available for $50. Medicare Part B covers the cost of flu vaccination. Both Medicare and Medicaid recipients are asked to bring their cards with them to their county clinics.

    While the flu shot is the best protection, according to the MSDH, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.

    To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at