Flu season in full swing
With the flu season in full swing, medical practitioners are recommending what seems to be a unanimous prescription: get a flu shot.
“It's not a scientific study, but I've asked everyone I've seen who has been diagnosed with influenza if they had gotten a flu shot. Not one had gotten it,” said Dr. Jeffrey Frye, emergency medicine specialist with the Uniontown Hospital.
Lab-positive flu cases in Fayette County, Oct. 2 through Jan. 5, 2013, numbered 96, according to state Health Department statistics updated on Tuesday.
Westmoreland County cases were reported at 507.
Flu cases have been identified in every county, with more than 11,300 cases reported through Jan. 5.
It's believed to be only a fraction of the actual number of flu cases, as the state reports only those confirmed by a laboratory.
Health Department spokesperson Holli Senior has said that an ample supply of flu vaccine, “well matched” to the strain that is circulating, is available.
Health officials noted the flu season runs through April, typically peaking in January or February.
Area hospital emergency rooms and urgent-care centers already are seeing an uptick in cases.
While daily average patient count at Uniontown Hospital's emergency room typically numbers around 150, in recent weeks that number has edged closer to 200.
“That's not all influenza cases,” Frye said on Tuesday.
But the flu and related complications — asthma, bronchitis and dehydration — are the primary contributors to the increase, he said.
“It's hitting all age groups. So far today I've seen a 9-year-old, a 50-year-old and a 90-year-old,” all with flu diagnoses, Frye said.
Treatment with an anti-viral medication such as Tamiflu must start within 48 hours, Frye said, and can shorten the course of the flu by a day or so.
Staying hydrated and away from work or school until one's fever has broken are priorities, he said.
Frye said hospital staff are encouraged to use anti-bacterial wipes on commonly shared equipment and devices, a practice he continues at home when family members are ill.
Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 8, Excela Health hospitals logged 354 confirmed in-patient and out-patient flu cases, spokeswoman Robin Jennings said on Tuesday.
Excela Frick reported 115 cases, with 16 of those being admissions.
“We draw from a lot of areas that don't have consistent preventive medicine,” said Dr. Bill Jenkins, director of Frick's emergency department, citing one reason why the incidence of flu cases at the Mt. Pleasant facility is comparable to those elsewhere in the Excela Health system.
Susan Spinuzza, physician assistant at the Uniontown MedExpress Urgent Care, said the number of flu patients has nearly doubled since Christmas.
“We have lots of people with coughs, fever, body aches, chills. ... That being- hit-by-a-truck-feeling is a red flag. They almost always test positive for flu,” she said.
Flu is spread primarily through inhaling droplets through others' coughing, sneezing and talking, Spinuzza said.
“You can reduce the chance of flu by about 30 percent by washing your hands often and using anti-bacterial gels,” she said.
Patients who suffer from secondary complications, such as ear aches, pain with breathing, sinus infections should seek medical attention, Spinuzza said.
But for typical flu systems lasting beyond 48 hours, “Grandma's wisdom” may be the best type of therapy, Spinuzza said.
“Rest, hydration, chicken soup, Tylenol for body aches and ride it out,” she said.
Highlands Hospital spokeswoman Vicki Meier said last week that the Connellsville facility had seen an influx of patients with the flu.
She could not be reached for further comment on Tuesday.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fayette Children and Youth Services to expand offices
- Fayette Relay for Life moves to Uniontown church
- Fayette County’s head detective named chief adult probation officer
- Connellsville diners can again ‘Savor the Avenue’
- Mother of Fayette County killer wants to testify in closed courtroom
- Belle Vernon Eagle Scout project draws praise
- Acme teen excited to experience fair as queen
- Dawson Grange Community Fair stands out by staying free to attend
- Woman threatened with knife at ATM in Uniontown
- Connellsville Health Board discusses rundown properties
- Additional charges filed in Connellsville vandalism case