“In general, things have calmed down both nationally and at WellStar,” said the hospital group’s spokesman Keith Bowermaster. “There is still flu activity present, but it is now considered regional and not widespread.”
He said WellStar has treated more than 1,300 patients with symptoms since the flu season started in the fall.
“That includes emergency rooms, urgent cares, physician offices, etc.,” Bowermaster said.
According to data from the Week 3 Georgia Weekly Influenza Report, provided by Bowermaster, the proportion of outpatient visits to hospitals in the state due to the flu dropped a little more than half a percentage point, or .57 percent, down from 3.1 percent to 2.8 percent the week of Jan. 13. This is the most current update.
The highest percentage of visits were recorded during December, when data shows that approximately 5 percent or more of all hospital visits consisted of people with flu.
The report also found 37 hospitalizations due to the flu, bringing the total to 679 in metro Atlanta this season.
There were two confirmed deaths during this same period, bringing the total to four.
“The average percent positive of all laboratory-confirmed tests was 24.4 percent, above the season onset threshold of 10 percent,” the report says.
Darlene Foote, the director of communications for Cobb and Douglas Public Health, said the department does not typically treat patients for symptoms but tries to prevent the onset of flu.
“We’re absolutely recommending people get the vaccine,” she said Thursday. “We have plenty of vaccine here. We know that some places are running low, but that’s not the issue here.”
They have two types of vaccines, the shot and mist, but there is very little mist on hand, which is primarily used for children.
Foote said flu season traditionally runs between October and March with February typically being the “peak month.”
“There is some speculation that since it started earlier than usual, it could end a little earlier this year though,” she said.
Foote said symptoms of the flu include aches, pains, an elevated temperature, fatigue and a cough and can affect people of all ages, especially those with a weakened immune system.
Foote recommends staying home when dealing with the flu.
“If you think you have it, just stay home and get rest,” she said. “Follow your doctor’s advice and avoid those who are coughing, sneezing or have a runny nose.”
Ways to prevent the flu also include washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
“We also tell people that a least once a week, spray your door handles, light switches and your general work area,” she added. “Wipe your area off because you don’t know who has been coughing or sneezing around your area.”