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Georgia’s Tift County experiences spike in flu cases

Meanwhile, Shionogi & Co.’s Xofluza drug, which can kill the flu virus within 24 hours, has received the approval of the Japanese health ministry.



Georgia is currently facing a severe flu outbreak as patients afflicted with the said disease rush to hospitals in one of its counties. Tifton Gazette reports that as of Feb. 18, there are already 490 confirmed cases at the Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC). Other than the staggering number of cases, there are over 1,100 people showing up with influenza-like symptoms.

At around the same time last year, Tift County only had around 150 flu cases. Now that the number has more than tripled, citizens are alarmed, and hospitals have become busy. The Tift Regional Health System, which measured the number of cases, hasn’t included in the count the cases from doctor’s offices and clinics in the county.

TRMC director of infection prevention Mary Key notes that the flu season reached its peak earlier than usual, which is at the third week of January. She adds that the flu activity typically climbs to its highest in March, with February being the earliest. For now, Key says that the heightened flu activity could die out this March but that Georgians shouldn’t let their guard down just yet as it is not a “100 percent guarantee.”

Doctors are advising the citizens to wash their hands frequently to avoid coming into contact with the disease. To stop the flu epidemic from spreading even further, they also suggest that people cough or sneeze into their sleeves if necessary, as it prevents the virus from going airborne. Key is also advising people to take a flu vaccine, which she says is still effective even if the flu season has already arrived.

Child coughing

Children are one of those at risk of catching the flu. (Photo by anjanettew via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0)

Those who are most vulnerable to the flu are the children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions.

Georgia and Tift County are having a tough time with the flu epidemic now, but soon enough, the state and the other parts of the world could be battling flu with ease once Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi & Co. starts distributing its drug that can rid people of the influenza virus in a day.

Xofluza now approved in Japan

What could be a groundbreaking drug that kills the virus has now been approved by the Japanese health ministry, says a report by The Wall Street Journal.

With the approval, Shionogi & Co. can finally begin distributing the Xofluza drug, which is said to eradicate the virus within 24 hours. As compared to other flu medicines like Tamiflu, Xofluza requires only a single dosage. Tamiflu, on the other hand, is administered to the patient in a span of five days.

There is no exact date on when Xofluza will be available in the U.S., but Shionogi & Co. already has plans to get the drug approved in the said country. For now, the company notes that getting an approval before 2019 is unlikely.

Xofluza could revolutionize the way doctors and patients fight the influenza virus. Hopefully, countries like the U.S. will have access to the medicine soon. Just last year, the flu costs the said country a whopping $10.4 billion, says CNBC. The cost accounts for lost labor, hospital bills and more. Through Xofluza, the cost could decrease dramatically.

(Featured image by Eneas De Troya via Flickr. CC BY 2.0)

Andrew Ross is a features writer whose stories are centered on emerging economies and fast-growing companies. His articles often look at trade policies and practices, geopolitics, mining and commodities, as well as the exciting world of technology. He also covers industries that have piqued the interest of the stock market, such as cryptocurrency and cannabis. He is a certified gadget enthusiast.