Health Department: Flu-related deaths soaring among young adults

flu-shotACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has received numerous reports from clinical partners throughout the state of flu-related deaths in younger adults, all of which were in patients unvaccinated against the flu.

While physicians are not required to notify MSDH of a flu diagnosis or death, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System. This system is made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi such as family practice clinics, student health centers, pediatricians, primary care physicians, and hospital emergency departments who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.

“All of the adult deaths that our clinical partners have reported to us have been 20-55 years of age,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, MSDH State Epidemiologist. “This year, the only flu strain that has been identified in Mississippi is the 2009 influenza A H1N1 strain. This year’s flu vaccination includes coverage for this particular strain, which makes it that much more important to stay protected.”

Mississippi’s flu season usually peaks in January through March, but Dobbs said it’s not too late to get the vaccination. Seasonal flu vaccinations are recommended for anyone age six months and older.

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