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2 flu-related deaths confirmed in coastal Georgia counties

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. – The Georgia Department of Public Health has confirmed the flu-related deaths of two elderly women in the Coastal Health District -- one from Chatham County and one from Effingham County.

These are the first confirmed flu-related deaths in the district, but there have been five additional confirmed flu-related deaths statewide, officials said.

The Coastal Health District is made up of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu. The influenza virus is very contagious and is spread mainly by droplets from infected people when they cough, sneeze or talk.

While the flu vaccine may not protect against every strain of flu, it is still the best protection against the flu. Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu or Relenza are an important second line of defense against the flu, officials said.

Treatment with antiviral drugs is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications or people who are very sick with flu. Antiviral drugs work best when started within two days of coming down with the flu, so it is important to call your doctor as soon as the first symptoms appear.

There are also several simple, everyday precautions people can take to avoid getting and spreading the flu including:

  • Cover your cough (try to cough into the crook of your elbow, not your hand).
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Clean common surfaces like countertops and desks.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth because germs spread this way.
  • Stay home from work or school and away from others when you're sick.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. According to the CDC, symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body, which means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.