McDuffie County Health Department nurse Jane Richards administers a flu shot to Jackie Boone of Thomson. Health Department officials have recorded few cases of the bug in McDuffie County.
Photo by Jonathan ErnstTHOMSON - McDuffie County still is waiting for the flu bug to hit.
Last week, school officials in Richmond and Columbia counties made it easier for sick pupils to be excused from school because of the unusually large number of flu cases that were being reported. Glascock County schools closed because of the bug, and other school systems reported high numbers of flu cases.
However, neither the McDuffie County Health Department nor McDuffie Regional Medical Center have reported a single case of the flu this season.
A health department spokesman speculated that the discrepancy could be because the flu is a relatively common illness and doesn't always require a visit to the doctor. Therefore, the number of reported flu cases probably differs from the amount of people with flu-like symptoms, they said. Representatives of both agencies reported they were administering the normal amount of flu shots for this time of the year.
Though McDuffie County schools saw an overall drop in attendance rates early last week, schoolSuperintendent Ed Grisham doesn't see any reason for concern.
"Ordinarily we have about a 95 percent attendance rate, meaning about 95 percent are attending school," he said.
Grisham said that although the attendance rate was only 90 percent at the beginning of the week, that number increased as the week progressed. "We feel like maybe we've got the worst of it behind us. At this point we don't see any necessity considering alternate scheduling."
But don't be fooled, says Dr. Robert Lemley. He believes that the flu bug will soon be passing through Thomson.
"(The flu season) generally starts in December and, peaks in February and ends in March," he said. "Well certainly in the past two to three weeks we've seen a substantial increase in flu and flu related illness."
Paige Williams, the infection control associate health coordinator at McDuffie Regional Medical Center, agrees with Lemley that the worst probably is coming.
"It's been in Columbia and Richmond counties. We're expecting it to hit us here next," she said.
Lemley advises anyone, particularly people who may be vulnerable to the virus - including children and the elderly - to get a flu shot.
"I'd recommend it to all people who don't have contrary indications, particularly egg allergies," he said. "You will not get the flu from a flu shot. You will get stimulation from your immune system, which may well mimic some viral symptoms like muscle aches or low-grade fever. That doesn't represent flu - it represents a stimulated immune system."
Lemley directed people who contract the flu virus to keep themselves well hydrated and to take Tylenol or Advil for a fever and any aches or pains.
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