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Flu rampant locally

Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a state of emergency in response to the ongoing flu outbreak across Alabama.

Alabama is experiencing widespread influenza (flu) activity, and hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms.  Emergency departments and outpatient clinics are also seeing very high volumes of patients. At this time, this is not a pandemic flu situation, but a major seasonal flu situation.

To avoid getting and spreading the flu, the Alabama Department of Public Health urges the general public to follow do10 Fight the Flu actions, for example:

· Get flu vaccine, it is not too late

· Stay at home if you have a fever

  • Wash your hands
  • Cover your cough and sneeze
  • Clean and disinfect
  • Learn home care

Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

For people with mild to moderate flu or flu-like symptoms, please do not go to your doctor’s office without calling first and do not go to the emergency room. Please call your doctor to see if you are eligible for antivirals without an appointment. Many insurance companies now have a “call a provider” service to help with mild to moderate illnesses; please take advantage of this service before going to doctor or hospital.  Mild to moderate cases of the flu usually do not require a hospital visit. Patients who do visit an emergency department or outpatient clinic should be aware of long wait times

Employers and schools that require doctor excuses for absences are asked to waive this requirement during this time to encourage those who are sick to stay home and not spread disease.

Acting State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris will conduct a press conference on Friday afternoon to provide additional information about Alabama’s flu situation.

Hospital officials at D.W. McMillan said they have seen a steady increase in the number of flu cases.

“We are seeing a steady increase in patients who have the influenza virus. This has been the case since the first of December. This week January 7 – 11, 31 patients have tested positive for the influenza virus either at the Hospital ER  and the D.W. McMillan After Hours Clinic. We are mostly seeing that the majority of patients are contracting Flu A but we are still seeing some type Flu B,” said Cindy Lancaster, RN, CIC for Infection Control and Employee Health.

 

D.W. McMillan Hospital officials are asking that you do not visit the hospital if you are sick with fever or respiratory symptoms.  The Hospital Women’s and Infants Unit (OB) is under strict protocol not to allow any visitors under the age of 12 that is not a sibling to the newborn will be allowed to visit.

 

Hospital officials also encourage everyone who feels they need to be tested for the flu to first try to see their primary care physician. If they cannot, officials recommend getting tested at the D.W. McMillan After Hours Clinic located inside the ER Entrance.  The After Hours Clinic is open Mon – Fri from 4:30 – 11 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.