Flu cases continue to rise, officials say

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/20/17

Influenza activity levels are increasing across the state as well as across Walker County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health and local officials.

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Flu cases continue to rise, officials say

Posted

Influenza activity levels are increasing across the state as well as across Walker County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health and local officials.

“Providers reporting increased percentages of patients with influenza-like illness and influenza samples sent to public health provide an indication of the geographic spread of influenza in Alabama,” Dr. Karen Landers, district medical officer, said in a press release from the Health Department. “This is concerning because influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, including children, pregnant women and even previously healthy young adults.”

The press release also states that while flu season is just getting started in much of the country, activity is already elevated in Alabama, with providers reporting 3.59 percent of outpatient visits due to influenza-like illness.

“We’ve had an influx of patients with the flu, not only in the emergency room but also being hospitalized,” said Pat Spiller, the infection prevention manager at Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper. “It has really picked up in the last two weeks.”

Spiller said that, until recently, the hospital hasn’t seen many flu cases since flu season started in October.

“We had two in October, seven cases in November,” she continued, “Then beginning in December, particularly on Dec. 10, we had 44 cases then and then on the 17th, we had 23. So we’ve had that many just in the last couple of weeks.”

The majority of the cases are influenza A, with very few cases of influenza B.

Flu season “started out as kind of a slow trickle — one case here and there — but then all of a sudden, we’re starting to see the same thing over and over again,” said Ken Glover, pharmacist and owner of Ken Glover Drugs. “You can hear patients come in coughing, running fevers. You can look at them and tell they don’t feel good. It’s really kind of snowballing.

“We’ve definitely seen a bump in it in the last few days,” he said.

Craig Washington, a pharmacist at Glover Drug Urgent Care Northwest, said they saw 70 patients who tested positive for the flu on Monday.

Glover added that Central Alabama Urgent Care, located next door to Ken Glover Drugs in Dora, has had to restock its supply of flu tests at least twice. Although not everyone with who feels sick will test positive for the flu, he encouraged people to seek medical care as soon as possible.

“It’s better to know than not know or to have missed it and feel miserable for several days,” he added.

Spiller advised people to wash their hands, cover coughs or sneezes with tissues, stay away from sick people, stay home if they’re sick and avoid touching magazines in doctors’ offices or games on restaurant tables.

Landers also advised that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.

“People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine,” she explained.