Doctor Warns Flu, RSV on the Rise, COVID Hasn’t Gone Away | Local news

Doctor Warns Flu, RSV on the Rise, COVID Hasn’t Gone Away |  Local news

MOULTRIE, Ga. – Moultrians should practice handwashing and other disease preventative measures as cases of viral illnesses rise, according to medical officials.

Flu cases have become widespread in Georgia earlier than usual in recent years, according to a news release shared by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

This statement holds true for the Colquitt County area as well, according to Dr. Ethan McBrayer, a family medicine physician at Sterling Group Primary Care.

“It seems that lately we have seen a big increase in common cases of influenza here. At least the past week in this community,” McBrayer said Thursday. “Of course, we’re getting into flu season … but we’re getting to that point. [where] many of the children are now getting sick. And now we’re seeing a crossover with the adults.”

Regular flu season begins in early October and can last until May of the following year. Symptoms of the flu are usually fever, chills, cough, runny nose, diarrhea, fatigue, and body aches. Symptoms and their intensity can vary from person to person, but some people may be at serious risk. Children under the age of two and people over the age of 65 are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. People with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and cancer, or pregnant patients, are also at risk.

McBrayer said preventive measures such as vaccinations and lifestyle modifications are two ways to prevent the spread of viral illness.

“Everyone six months and older is recommended to get a flu shot. The first thing would be prevention with vaccination. The next one will be something like your lifestyle modifications, like avoiding people who are sick,” he explained.

The flu is contagious and can be spread through respiratory droplets. It is recommended to wash your hands after touching high-traffic areas, such as doorknobs and surfaces, and to avoid touching your mouth and eyes.

The flu is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection, so antibiotics won’t help as a form of treatment, he said. Instead, the use of antiviral drugs is recommended, with Tamiflu being the main option.

“There are a few others out there that really more or less shorten the course. The flu is not a bacterial infection. It’s viral, so antibiotics won’t help, and it’s really a self-limiting virus that most people recover from on their own,” he said. “We usually don’t treat people who have the flu unless, outside of that 48-hour window, they’re severely infected, but we do that frequently. [to prevent] exposition.”

He added: “The most important thing right now that we know is that you need to get a flu shot. You must do everything you can to prevent this from getting even worse. [in] the community because the reality is that if we get vaccinated we protect not only ourselves but other people around us.”

Cases of the common cold are also on the rise and have milder symptoms, preventative methods, and contagiousness similar to the flu.

“There are hundreds of thousands of different strains of viruses that could cause the… common cold. A lot of times these common colds are viral and don’t really warrant an antibiotic for them,” McBrayer said.

Common colds usually last about seven to 10 days, and symptoms get worse before they get better. McBrayer recommends treating the symptoms.

“If it’s an allergy component, it could work as an antihistamine or as a nasal steroid. That can help with that congestion that’s going on there,” she said.

Parents should also be aware of the increasing cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. It can affect people of all ages, but medical officials see the disease primarily in children under 5 years of age.

RSV causes children to produce excess mucus, leading to severe congestion. The illness lasts approximately seven to 10 days with a peak on days three to five.

McBrayer explained: “The biggest thing we see with RSV is that these kids can sometimes have rapid breathing with all the mucus. They’re really working hard to breathe through that stuffiness, and with that, they end up getting really dehydrated because they’re exerting so much energy. [by] breathing so fast Our mainstay of treatment in the hospital is not respiratory treatments, it’s often just fluids.”

Parents should do routine suctioning with nasal aspirators like the NoseFrida, provide fluids, and monitor their child’s breathing habits. If he begins to breathe more rapidly where the rib cage is visible, parents should seek medical attention immediately.

Premature babies are at risk for RSV due to weakened lungs and immune systems. They are often given the SYNAGIS injection to help protect them from the disease.

McBrayer continues to see an increase in cases related to COVID-19 and said it presents the same risks, treatment and preventive measures for people with chronic illness as the flu.

Suggested COVID-19 preventive methods are getting vaccinated and booster shots to help protect not only yourself but others from the disease and getting tested when you start showing symptoms.

“There are incubation periods for all of these viruses where you are acutely infected,” McBrayer said, “[but] however, you do not know it, and you are transmitting it to everyone around you. I think we have to think about the community we’re in and be considerate of that. [by] wearing a mask [and] making sure we’re trying to stay clean.”

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