JACKSON - The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) has received several reports from clinical partners throughout the state of serious complications from flu in younger adults, including deaths.

"The only type of flu identified in Mississippi so far this year is the 2009 influenza A H1N1 strain, which has in past years primarily affected those under 65 years of age," said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, MSDH State Epidemiologist.

"This year, we've received reports of serious complications and some deaths associated with influenza infection in those under 65.

During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, 80 percent of the deaths were in people younger than 65, unlike a typical flu season in which the majority of deaths occur in those 65 and older."

The good news is that this year's flu vaccination includes coverage for this particular strain, said Dobbs.

"It's not too late. We are still in the early stages of our traditional flu season. It's vital that all Mississippians - not just the very young and the very old - get vaccinated against flu," he said.

While individual flu cases and flu-related deaths in adults are not reported to MSDH, the agency monitors flu activity through the Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) Sentinel Surveillance System, made up of healthcare providers in Mississippi such as family practice clinics, student health centers, pediatricians, primary care physicians, and hospital emergency departments who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database.

Seasonal flu vaccinations are recommended for anyone age six months and older, and are available at all county health departments.

Those particularly at risk for influenza complications include young children, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses. 

Vaccination of healthcare personnel and caregivers of vulnerable individuals is especially important.

Flu vaccinations are available at all county health department clinics.

Symptoms of seasonal flu include fever, cough, and often, extreme fatigue.

Sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a runny or stuffy nose are also often present.

More severe symptoms and death can also occur.

While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu.

These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.

To locate a county health department clinic in your area or for more information on flu and pneumonia, visit the MSDH website at www.HealthyMS.com.

Follow MSDH by e-mail and social media at HealthyMS.com/connect.