31 flu deaths reported in Georgia

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that 31 patients have now died from flu in Georgia this year. That number is up from just 10 deaths at this time last season.

James Stanford is one of about 600 people across the state that have been hospitalized because of the flu.

Stanford told Channel 2's Diana Davis that the flu hit him fast, and he has been in a hospital for a few days while he recovers.

"I just felt really, really bad. They put me on the ventilator in the ICU (intensive care unit) so that my lungs wouldn't collapse," Stanford said.

Flu is now widespread over most of the U.S., including Georgia.

"It is different this year. It seems to be a wide spectrum of people getting sick. We've seen young people come in with serious complications of flu which we normally don't see," said emergency medicine specialist Dr. Thomas Upshaw.

Just a few days ago, Davis spoke with Candy Moss, who has a 16-year-old at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta who's critically ill with flu.

"How shocked are you that someone who is young and healthy and nothing wrong with them can get this sick?" Davis asked.

"It's mind-blowing," Moss said.

The nurses and doctors at Piedmont Healthcare told Davis on Monday that this season is the worst flu season they can remember for some time.

Officials at the hospital said the outbreak is so bad even some of the staff has gotten sick despite taking all precautions.

Officials say flu shots are about 60 percent effective.

Even though he got sick, Stanford told Davis he's glad he got the shot and will do it again next season.

"I would definitely get it because I think if anything, it lessened my symptoms a lot probably, and I got better faster," Stanford said.

Experts agree. They wish more people would get the shot.

"A lot of them are saying they didn't get the flu shot. Which is surprising to us because of all the messages in the media (say) to get the flu shot," Upshaw said.