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Health Department: Flu activity 'widespread'

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is reporting widespread flu activity throughout the state.

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 Mississippi Public Health Laboratory (PHL). Since the beginning of flu season in October, all positive samples reported by the PHL are influenza B.

“Through our sentinel system, we know that seasonal influenza is now geographically widespread in Mississippi,” said Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. “So far, testing performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the types of flu causing illness this season are a good match with this year’s flu vaccine. There is still time to get the flu shot before peak season hits in January through March.”

Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older.

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