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      SWGA is holding its own on the fight vs. influenza

      Several months ago, the Southwest Georgia Public Health District saw a higher than normal number of flu cases, with those numbers continuing to increase into December.

      "It looks like our numbers were a little bit higher in December and now we're trending down some," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant , District Health Director for Southwest Georgia Public Health.

      Experts report that downward trend may just be the end of the first of two waves of flu cases, which Southwest Georgia appears to have faired pretty well.

      "Our peak has not been as severe, certainly not as several as what they're witness now up in the northeast corridor," explains Dr. Doug Patten, the Chief Medical Officer at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

      Dr. Patten credits programs like the Network of Trust, a local school health program, for keeping the flu at bay in our region.

      Angie Barber, the Director of Network of Trust, said, "our Phoebe school nurses have been leading the way to help educate on the vaccines for the flu, on sanitizer in the schools and helping be sure we have the right hygiene."

      By stopping the spread of the flu in schools, it can help prevent the spread at home.

      Should the conditions in southwest Georgia reach a more serious level, medical staff at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital are prepared to handle it.

      "We have a well planned response for a pandemic, if you will, and this has been defined in the past and refined when we had the H1N1 issues a few years ago," explains Dr. Patten

      That plan includes setting up offsite triage centers to keep flu patients separated from the rest of the hospital.

      Dr. Patten says the best way to avoid this situation is engage in prevention, like the flu vaccine and hand sanitation.

      Stay connected to as stories develop and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the conversation and connect with FOX 31!