First flu case confirmed in Mississippi

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The Mississippi State Department of Health on Thursday reported the first confirmed case of influenza for the 2016-2017 flu season.

The patient is from central Mississippi, the Health Department said in a statement.

The case was detected through the agency’s influenza surveillance system, a part of which identifies representative flu cases across the state. Healthcare providers also do their own flu testing.

“This not only indicates that flu is present in the state, but it also serves as a reminder that now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven’t done so already,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in the statement. “The flu shot takes one to two weeks to produce immunity, and flu season usually peaks in January through March in Mississippi.”

Nationwide, an estimated 3,000-49,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu.

“We do encourage all Mississippians six months and older to get vaccinated,” Byers said. “Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.”