Flu rages on in local area, nationwide
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Local emergency rooms and urgent care centers have had longer wait times than normal recently due to the continued increased numbers of influenza and other associated viruses.
According to a press release from Coryell Memorial Healthcare System, there are three influenza strains currently circulating to include Flu A H1, Flu A H3 and Flu B, with the dominant strain being Influenza A H3N2, which tends to cause the most severe infections.
Also, the department of Texas Health and Human Services stated that positive hospital labs for influenza are up 9.6 percent from the previous week.
“Coryell Memorial Healthcare System is experiencing similar test results, which is a very high percentage of patients testing positive for influenza,” said Ron Pundt, CMHS Laboratory Director.
Coryell Memorial Hospital, ER, Coryell Medical Clinic and Mills County Medical Clinic testing in the month of December resulted in 395 total positive flu tests and January has already shown 450 positive results.
“It is not looking like we have reached the peak of our influenza season, as it usually spikes between December and February, although activity can last as late as May,” said Pundt.
Each year, the flu viruses change, and the composition of U.S. flu vaccines is reviewed annually and updated to match circulating flu viruses, with vaccines to protect against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
“Influenza strain A does not appear to be covered well by this year’s influenza vaccine however even if you’ve gotten the flu, despite having the vaccine, you’re likely to have a less severe case. You’re less likely to have complications like pneumonia and having to be hospitalized,” said Dr. Jeff Bates, Coryell Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer.
From January 1-29, Coryell Memorial Hospital and ER saw 118 cases of Influenza A, 44 of Influenza B, with the Coryell Medical Clinic seeing 201 patients with Influenza A and 87 with Influenza B. CCMH admissions for both Influenza A and B totaled 24.
Over at Metroplex Hospital, there have been 494 confirmed cases of the flu with 54 of those being admitted to the hospital since January 6, said Erin Spencer, public relations specialist with Metroplex Hospital.
“Since late October, we have had more than 1,000 cases of the flu and 104 admissions since October 2017. This is compared only 56 flu cases with four admissions for the same time last year,” Spencer said.
In Copperas Cove, Dr. Eddy Dark with Integrity Urgent Care in the Five Hills Shopping Center said his office has been seeing approximately 80 patients per day, with about 75 percent of patients being seen for flu and flu-related issues over the past two weeks. Even with the increased influx of patients, Dark said they are still able to get most patients out the door within 90 minutes.
The FDA is still encouraging everyone who has not gotten the flu shot to get one as soon as possible. Although influenza viruses circulate year-round, flu activity peaks between December and February most years, but activity can last as late as May in the U.S.