Health News

Mississippi has a flu problem, CDC says. And flu shots may not be working

The number of flu cases are on the rise in Mississippi and many hospitals are struggling to keep up with demand for influenza care.
The number of flu cases are on the rise in Mississippi and many hospitals are struggling to keep up with demand for influenza care. AP

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released its latest flu report, and Mississippi is one of 22 states with an increase in the number of reported flu cases.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, for the first week of 2018, there were 17,706 total patients experiencing influenza symptoms in the state. The highest number of reported cases have been between people agres 0-4 and 5-24, the reports shows. The virus claimed the lives of 20 children in the state in 2017, but no pediatric deaths have been reported thus far in 2018.

The MSHD report shows a decrease in cases of flu-like illnesses for the coastal counties in Region 9 between the last week of 2017 and the first week of 2018.

But the active flu season in the state is having an affect on hospitals. According to a news release from the Mississippi Hospital Association, the number of patients in the hospital for flu-like illness nationally has increased about 35 percent up from lost year. Most of the people who are hospitalized for the flu are over the age of 65.

The CDC reports the rate at which those affected by flu-like illness nationally almost doubled in the last week, to 22.7 for every 100,000 hospitalizations. But the rate is lower than the 2014-15 season.

Mississippi is one of 22 states with a high flu rate in the current flu season. Courtesy CDC

“Mississippi hospitals, like those across the country, are experiencing a huge influx of patients due to the flu and are taking necessary steps to ensure patients receive appropriate care in the appropriate setting,” said Timothy H. Moore, President/CEO of Mississippi Hospital Association. “Hospitals across the state are continuously monitoring the situation and working together to make sure all of their patients are receiving the care they need and the hospitals have the supplies they need to get through this.”

NPR reports the main strain of flu this season is H3N2, which tends to affect more people and make them sicker once they have the virus.

The peak of flu season starts in February and the MSHD is encouraging those who have not gotten flu shots to do so.

In a report that was published Dec. 18 by Time, it was reported that the current vaccine may not be as effective for H3N2 because public health officials have to guess which strain of influenza will be the most aggressive in the coming flu season.

The MSDH provides online the nearest locations for flu vaccines in South Mississippi.

Those at the highest risk of getting the flu

  • Children older than six months
  • Adults 50 and older
  • Women who become pregnant during flu season