More than 300 people have been hospitalized and least five have died from influenza-related illnesses in Georgia this season.
Those numbers are expected to increase in coming weeks, the state department of public health said in a news release Friday.
The virus is spreading state-to-state and, in Georgia, its intensity was ranked 10 on a scale of 1-10.
On Thursday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a public health emergency for the state. AL.com reported that hospitals in seven of the state's eight health districts were at 90 percent capacity on Friday.
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The main flu strain circulating this season called influenza A (H3N2). That particular strain, when widespread, has historically resulted in more hospitalizations and deaths reported in people at least 65 years old and younger children than compared to other age groups.
H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year’s flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine.
“It is not too late to get a flu shot,” Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal said in the news release. "Every individual over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine — not just for their own protection, but to protect others around them who may be more vulnerable to the flu and its complications.”
Symptoms of the flu vary but can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. People who are at high-risk for flu complications, such as young children, pregnant woman and elderly people, may need a prescription antiviral drug, such as Tamiflu or Relenza, the news release said.
Other measures of precaution that everyone can take to prevent the flu from spreading include:
* Frequent hand-washing with warm water and soap
* Use of alcohol-based gels
* Cover your nose and mouth with the crook of your arm when coughing or sneezing.
* Avoid touching your face, nose, mouth and eyes.
* If you're sick, stay home from school or work. Anyone who has the flu should be fever-free for at least 24-hours before returning to work or school.
* If you are caring for someone with the flu, keep them out of common areas and away from others as often as possible. If possible, have the sick person use a separate bathroom and clean it once daily with disinfectant. Make sure to wash clothes, bed sheets, towels, eating utensils and dishes used by the sick person before reusing them.