HEALTH ALERT: Flu virus in schools causes concern

SAVANNAH, Ga., (WSAV) — The flu continues to spread across the country claiming the lives of both young and old. There are even some schools closing because of this deadly virus.

The CDC’s reports 37 kids have died nationwide from the flu virus. Local officials say there’s no end in sight. The latest numbers show 25 people have died from the flu in Georgia this season alone and experts say that number is only going to continue to rise. Two weeks ago it was 12.

Now doctors offices are overflowing and schools are closing because of this deadly outbreak. “It’s the worst flu season we have seen in years now. And the strain that is out now is one that is hitting kids harder, its hitting healthy people harder, the mortality rate is up this year for younger healthier people,” South Coast Health Pediatrician, Dr. David Mozer says.

He told News 3 he sees at least 30 to 40 patients a day. Some come in for flu like symptoms, others for vaccination.

Dr. Mozer says, “It is the best protection we’ve got. And this year as the word has been out the flu vaccine is not working great.”

According to Dr. Mozer, the vaccination isn’t as effective as years before. It is usually 50 to 70% effective. But this year, it’s significantly less. However, doctors are still recommending the vaccination over natural remedies.

Dr. Mozer says throughout his years as a pediatrician he hasn’t seen a strain like this in nearly 10 years. “This has been the worst I’ve seen since probably 2009 when the H1N1 epidemic came out. That was a rough flu season. This has been pretty similar.”

Reports show dozens of schools have closed across the nation in states like Texas, Illinois and Michigan because of the high numbers of students and teachers with the virus. Earlier this month Alabama Governor Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak. Dr. Mozer agrees people should stay home if affected by the flu.

“School is important, its their job. But once you have a high percentage getting the flu again that is the reservoir for flu. That’s where it gets spread and then gets passed on to the baby at home or a grandparent who ends up dying from it or having severe complications,” Dr. Mozer says.

A representative from the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System told News 3 a lot of students and teachers were absent last week. But this week they are seeing a decrease in absences. They are still working to gather exact numbers.

Dr. Mozer also says there are symptoms to look out for such as: consistent fever, “feeling like crap”, body aches, poor aches, poor energy, respiratory issues, dry cough, and sore throat.

Although the vaccination it is far from perfect it’s the best thing out. And he says if you or your kids get sick you have about a 48 hour window where tamiflu can help.

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