Desoto County NewsMississippi News

Report ranks state, Mid-South high for flu cases

A new report is bearing out what many of us already realize each time we sneeze, cough, or run a fever. There’s a lot of the flu going around. 

The index comes from the national drugstore chain Walgreens, which has come out with its Walgreens Flu Index

The index said for the week ending Oct. 22, Mississippi ranks number one in the country right now for high flu activity. In addition, the Memphis Designated Market Area (DMA), including DeSoto County, is 12th in the nation. The DMA has seen 1.66 times the normal number of flu cases for the week.  

It’s the ninth year the drugstore chain has offered its Flu Index. To date, overall flu activity is 10 times higher nationwide when compared to the 2021-22 flu season and has more than doubled over the past two weeks, the report said.  

The southern states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are where the most number of flu cases are found.  

“As we head into the fall and winter seasons, our data show significantly higher flu activity early this year when compared to other flu seasons and it’s increasing across the United States, especially in southern cities,” Anita Patel, PharmD, vice president, pharmacy services development, Walgreens, said in a news release. “As we return to pre-pandemic activities and spend more time indoors without a mask or social distancing, we are more vulnerable to respiratory infections. To help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses this season, the best thing you can do is schedule your annual flu shot and updated COVID-19 booster at Walgreens in one convenient stop.”

DeSoto County News recently reported on the higher cases in DeSoto County and the Mid-South. Dr. Sharin Mazumder of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare expressed how much the incidences of flu have increased in Methodist Le Bonheur emergency rooms and in hospitalizations.  

“Social distancing and masking have been dropped and people are moving back to a pre-pandemic mode and traveling more, Dr. Mazumder said. “The other reason is a change in population immunity, dealing with a population where we really haven’t seen significant levels of flu in a few years, and children, in particular, are vulnerable because they haven’t encountered flu in their lifetime.”

As a drug store, Walgreens is encouraging flu shots to help stop the spread of influenza. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot because flu activity most commonly peaks in February and can continue through May. It takes about two weeks after the vaccine for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.