Why do so many kids in Southwest Georgia have the flu?
Southwest Georgia health officials are investigating an alarming increase in the number of flu cases among children.
The latest CDC report shows increased flu and hospitalization rates â" especially among children.
Dr. Jacqueline Grant of Southwest Georgia Public Health says children are like a herd â" perfect for spreading germs far and fast.
And that can make fighting illnesses like the flu very difficult.
"Young children, the zero to four, is where we're seeing the highest frequency and also, we're seeing large numbers in five to 18 year-olds," said Grant.
Children are vulnerable because of the large amounts of time they spend with other children in schools and daycares.
"They tend to cough and not always cover their mouth," said Grant. "They may not be washing their hands as much."
Ri Lamb is a nurse at Southside Middle School, part of the Dougherty County School System.
Lamb is a big believer not only in teaching children to wash their hands but also in keeping those hands away from their face.
"It really helps to prevent the spread of any illness if you just keep your hands away from your face," said Lamb.
To help prevent the spread of germs, the Dougherty County School System installed hand sanitizers donated by Phoebe Putney throughout their schools. Using them isn't mandatory but they're strategically placed so it's hard for students to avoid them.
Although schools make perfect breeding grounds for the flu, prevention begins at home by building a strong immune system.
"I do a lot of encouraging of watching your diet and eating a good, healthy diet," said Lamb.
And it's never too late for parents to get their child a flu shot.
"If they have not immunized their children, to do so because there's still time to do so and make a difference," added Grant.