Dramatic increase in flu cases in county
by Rachel Davis
Dec 05, 2012 | 3254 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Health officials are urging anyone who can to get a flu shot this year. Shots are still available at local pharmacies and doctor’s offices. – Photo by: James Phillips.
Health officials are urging anyone who can to get a flu shot this year. Shots are still available at local pharmacies and doctor’s offices. – Photo by: James Phillips.
Local doctors, clinics and Walker Baptist Medical Center have all seen a dramatic rise in the number of patients they have seen in recent days. This increase corresponds to a report from the Centers for Disease Control that says Alabama is among the top five states for flu reports so far this year.

Urgent Care Northwest and the After-Hours Clinic in Jasper have also seen a large number of patients in recent days.

A representative at Urgent Care said they have seen a large number of flu cases and cases that exhibited “flu-like symptoms” but did not show a positive on the flu test.

Walker Baptist Medical Center has also seen a large number of these cases, as well as 62 confirmed cases of influenza, with five being hospitalized related to the illness. WBMC officials also said they have seen an upswing in the number of cases since Thanksgiving; normally the cases of influenza don’t see a dramatic increase until after the Christmas holidays.

The nation has also seen an extreme increase in the dispensation of Tamiflu, the drug used during the early stages of infection in an attempt to shorten the recovery time. The product has been difficult for many pharmacies in hard hit areas to keep in stock. Jennifer Wolfe of Hospital Discount Pharmacy in downtown Jasper said they have been able to get the product in, but they are selling it very quickly.

“It is just really rampant this year,” Wolfe said. “We have been going through 10 packs a day.”

Wolfe also said that, on Sunday, their after-hours dispensary sold through 15 boxes of the product in about two hours.

The CDC report said the flu season hadn’t started this early in approximately 10 years, leading officials to believe that it could be one of the worse in recent history. The report also listed Alabama, along with Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, as the top states for flu infections.

The report also stated that this year’s vaccine is well matched to the flu strains that are being seen most commonly this year.

The CDC also said that nearly one-third of the U.S. population has already received the flu vaccine.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, body aches, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, congestion, coughing, sneezing and extreme fatigue.

WBMC has set up germ stations inside the hospital that have antibacterial wipes and tissues. They also take steps to isolate flu patients in the emergency room to protect against spreading the germs to other waiting patients. They have put together a list of tips for avoiding the spread of the flu:

•Get a flu shot. Flu shots are still available from local pharmacies and doctors, as well as a variety of other sources.

•Wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol gel frequently and especially after blowing nose or sneezing.

•Sneeze into tissue or arm if tissue is not available.

•Stay three to six feet from anyone exhibiting signs of respiratory illness.