Ahead Of Peak Flu Season, Savannah Area Hospital Restricts Sick Visitors

Jan 4, 2019

Influenza has yet to hit its peak in Georgia, but Memorial Health in Savannah is already changing its policies to protect staff.

Only healthy adults over the age of 18 should plan to visit sick patients, and anyone with cold or flu-like illness must wear a mask.

"No one with flu-like symptoms will be permitted in patient rooms," spokesman Dale Hooks said in a news release. "Flu-like symptoms include fever, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, or upset stomach."

Last year, more than 900,000 people across the country were hospitalized with the flu and 80,000 died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those deaths, 154 deaths occurred in Georgia. The 2017-18 season was the highest flu-like illness recorded in 40 years.

High influenza activity was reported across the South during the week ending Dec. 29, 2018.
Credit CDC

Georgia is one of the states with the most widespread flu-related illness and deaths, according to the state health department. The CDC reports states with high activity, but it does not measure the extent of geographic spread of flu within a state. Therefore, outbreaks occurring in a single city could cause the state to display high activity levels.

Statewide, four people have died after having positive influenza tests and more than 300 have been hospitalized with flu-like illness since the season started in late September.

RELATED: High Flu Activity In Georgia: 4 Dead, 159 Hospitalized

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H3N2, a form of influenza A, is currently more prevalent in Georgia, according to the health department. The more severe strain can be particularly dangerous for the very young, the elderly and expectant mothers. The strain H1N1 is more prevalent nationally, according to the CDC.

Flu-like illness has been high in Georgia since the week of Nov. 18, 2018.
Credit Georgia Department of Public Health

In Georgia, flu-like illness has been high for more than five weeks.

Health officials saw a spike of influenza activity in January during last year's record season.

While the health department cannot predict what this year's flu season will look like, officials recommend everyone over 6 months of age get the flu vaccine. Even if those people get sick, the severity will be reduced, state epidemiologist Audrey Kunkes said.

As long as you are healthy, it's never too late to get a flu shot, Kunkes said.