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Guard self, others vs. the spread of flu

Flu season has hit especially hard this winter, and news Monday that Mississippi reported its first pediatric flu death is a harsh reminder of that.

The state Health Department said Monday that the death happened in the southern part of the state. Spokeswoman Liz Sharlot says the department could not disclose details, including which day or in which county it occurred, The Associated Press reported.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 30 pediatric flu deaths have occurred in the United States this season. In Mississippi, the only flu deaths that must be reported to the state are for people younger than 18, AP reported.

Local healthcare workers have stressed the importance of the flu vaccine. They have also advocated for using Tamiflu, which must be administered in the first 48 hours of symptoms to have a positive effect.

Those who think they may have the flu should visit a clinic in order to rule out something more serious — or call in to speak with a doctor or nurse.

When it comes to preventing flu, the CDC recommends getting a vaccine, and taking steps to stop the spread of germs, such as:

• Avoid close contact with sick people.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.

If you have flu-like symptoms, the CDC also recommends staying home for 24 hours after the fever is gone to avoid infecting others.

It’s also not too late to get the flu vaccine.