Health: Statewide flu-related deaths climb to 66 as widespread outbreak continues; majority of deaths in those ages 51 and older.

Health: Statewide flu-related deaths climb to 66 as widespread outbreak continues; majority of deaths in those ages 51 and older.

Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health announced that there have now been at least 66 confirmed influenza-associated deaths in Georgia this flu season, up from 51 deaths last week. The majority of those deaths have been individuals 50 years of age or older. There were 49 deaths in those ages 65 and old and eight deaths in those ages 51-64. Two of those 66 deaths have been pediatric (between ages 5-17) patients.

As of Feb. 9, five of these 66 have been in the ten-county Northwest Health District – one each in Bartow, Paulding, and Polk counties and two in Floyd. The majority of the 51 deaths have been individuals 50 years of age or older. One was an individual less than 18 but older than 12.

The state Department of Public Health also reported that there were 120 hospitalizations due to influenza infection in the eight-county metro Atlanta region during the week of Jan. 28 through Feb. 3, bringing total to 1,027 hospitalizations this season so far.

Click here for Weekly Flu Report from GDPH.

Among other Public Health recommendations:

** Stay home from work or school if you’re sick, so you don’t spread the flu. Before returning to school or work, flu sufferers should be free of fever (without the use of a fever reducer) for at least 24 hours.

** If your doctor prescribes antivirals, take them.

** If you’re not sick, stay away from people who are.

** Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently to help guard against the flu. If soap and water are not accessible, the next best thing is to use alcohol-based sanitizing gels.

** Cover the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the flu. Use a tissue, or cough or sneeze into the crook of the elbow or arm.

** Avoid touching your face, as flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes.

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