Local flu cases have risen dramatically in the last few weeks.
“We’re seeing record numbers of patients in the Emergency Department who are testing positive for flu,” said Mike Allen, Hamilton Medical Center (HMC) Emergency Department director.
The flu season runs from Oct. 1 to March 31. So far, HMC has treated 351 people with confirmed cases of flu. For the entire season last year, 112 people were treated for flu at HMC.
“There are a number of ways to prevent the flu,” said Perri Correll, Infection Prevention director. “Getting the flu shot and proper hand washing, especially after wiping runny noses, are two of the best ways to avoid theflu.” In addition, Correll mentioned drinking plenty of water, keeping your hands away from your face, staying away from crowds, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy as ways keep the flu away.
“It’s also important to stay home when you’re sick so you don’t pass it on to others,” said Correll.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typical flu symptoms include fever or feeling feverish and having chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness) and in some people, vomiting and diarrhea (though this is more common in children than adults).
“Those who are generally healthy often would be able to treat it (flu) by getting plenty of rest and fluid, and taking over-the-counter pain medication,” said Jonathan Thompson, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department. “People with severe symptoms or those in high risk categories (generally children under 5, seniors over 65 and people with persistent health problems) would likely need antiviral medication to treat the flu.”
According to Thompson, “the flu is very prevalent in this community, and unfortunately, we really don’t know when it will let up. Taking steps to prevent the flu should help shorten the time that it’s active.”