Sunday, Mar 9, 2014
Flu Season Hits in Time for the Holidays
WILLIAMSON CO. -- Health officials say flu cases are on the rise in our region, and it comes just in time for the holidays.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is hitting Illinois on a regional basis, which is one step under widespread. Local doctors and pharmacists say they're seeing more and more patients with influenza.
Compared to this time last year, health officials say flu season is getting a late start. However, they say it's just the beginning and they don't see it slowing down anytime soon.
It's the season of giving, but the flu is likely the last thing on everybody's Christmas list.
"When people sneeze or cough, it basically spreads those droplets, which is how we actually pick it up," explained Dr. Todd Endaghl, an emergency room physician at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion.
Endaghl says if you're not careful, you could end up on a hospital bed.
"This is a late start this season, but now that's it's picking up, I suspect that we're going to see more, especially with close contact here at the holidays," he said.
Endaghl says he's now seeing two or three positive nasal swab tests every day. "That means there's a lot that's undiagnosed that's in the community that we're not seeing," he added.
Down the street at Logan Primary Pharmacy, Ben Calcaterra is finding a similar trend.
"Well last flu season started a little bit earlier. We had a lull, and then we had another wave later," he explained. "This season so far, it's started a little bit later than we typically see and it's just slowly getting started."
Calcaterra says last year's breakout, combined with a short supply of liquid Tamiflu, had his pharmacy scrambling for more medications. This year, Calcaterra says he's planning ahead.
"How we remedy that is we start making our own liquid we compound from the capsules and make our own liquid when we run short of the commercial version," said Calcaterra.
Calcaterra says the flu strains vary and each year, they hit people in a different way. "This year, we're typically seeing that cough starting out, with a high-fever and then the other symptoms with the body aches come later," he said.
Tips to avoid catching the bug this season include washing your hands frequently, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, or simply getting the flu vaccine.
"Right now is still a very good time to get a flu shot to prevent that wave of flu that we're about to see," Calcaterra added.
State officials say last year more than 600 people were admitted to intensive care units with the flu and nearly 100 died.
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