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Mississippi's flu epidemic

The start of a new year bring the promise of new things. For some Americans who are suffering from the flu, the first few weeks of 2015 may be a little uncomfortable. It is the first full week of January and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are already reporting that the flu has reached an epidemic level in the United States.

As of December 20, 2014 the flu had claimed the life of more individuals than the same time period the year before. There are several other unconfirmed flu-related deaths that are suspected. The key to staying healthy this flu season may be not to get the illness in the first place. Getting the flu vaccine is 61 percent effective at preventing the flu. The percentage is not higher due to the different strains of flu that are currently circulating. This season a mutant strain has taken hold in the population and the vaccine was not designed to combat that form of the flu.

Though many physicians are seeing a spike in visits for the flu, there is no indication that this outbreak will be any worse than previous years. Generally, flu cases tend to spike between December and February in Mississippi and around the country. Doctors are hoping that the numbers will stabilize as the year continues.

Beyond getting the flu vaccine, individuals should practice good hygiene techniques. Frequently washing the hands and trying to avoid those who have already come down with the flu are some of the best ways to prevent transmission. Anyone who suspects that he or she has contracted the flu should seek medical attention as soon as possible. A delayed diagnosis could be detrimental to your health, and result in a worsened medical condition.

Source: CNN, "Teen's death shows horror of flu epidemic," Josh Levs, January 2, 2015

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