ATLANTA - This flu season's strain has spread rapidly through the Southern U.S. and metro Atlanta, and officials say the current flu vaccine has little effect on the H3N2 strain that leads to particularly severe symptoms.
According to the Georgia Department of Health, doctor visits for flu-like symptoms has almost tripled, and 193 people in just the metro Atlanta area have been hospitalized for the flu since fall.
Fifty people in the metro alone were hospitalized in the last week of December.
One person in Georgia has died, and thirteen children nationwide have died this flu season.
Federal health officials cite the bad winter weather, holiday travel and the severe H3N2 strain for the high number of hospitalizations in the state and nationwide.
Health officials describe the pronounced symptoms of the H3N2 strain which include extreme fatigue, body aches, and a respiratory infection which could last days.
"Unfortunately this year, the flu has been pretty severe," said Christina Grace, a nurse practitioner at Health Spring MD in Brookhaven, which has seen numerous patients from the flu season.
The symptoms of body aches, fatigue, and respiratory symptoms are especially severe, leading more people to seek hospital treatment.
The center encourages holistic medicine along with traditional treatments. Treatments Grace suggests include:
- washing your hands
- avoiding people who are sick
- staying home until your fever subsides and symptoms are relieved
- taking up to 10,000 units of Vitamin D when sick and 5,000 units daily during flu season
- consuming garlic and adding it to foods
- avoiding carbohydrates and sugar, which lower the strength of your immune system
Grace also tells us this year's flu vaccine is only 10% effective against the H3N2 virus. That being said, the C.D.C. still says getting a flu shot is one of the best steps you should take. While you should've gotten the shot weeks, if not a few months ago, it's not too late.
If you do start feeling under the weather, go to the doctor right away. There are antiviral medicines that can lessen the impact and duration of the flu. To be truly effective, a person needs to start taking those drugs within two days of getting sick.