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Flu outbreak puts residents in hospital, doctors on alert

This year’s flu outbreak has been described as one of the worst in the U.S. in years, killing almost 100 people per week since December, according to the Center for Disease Control.

With Memorial Pediatrics seeing approximately 15 cases a day, Bainbridge is not exempt from the outbreak. It is important to distinguish the flu from any other normal virus. Dr. Winston Price said this year’s strand of the flu typically causes vomiting, fever, diarrhea, body aches, decrease in appetite and headache. If these symptoms persist for more than two days, it is likely the flu.

People who notice a fever have 48 hours to begin giving themselves anti-flu medication before the virus establishes itself. Dr. Price suggests Tamiflu or the generic brand of Tamiflu. While the medication can help, the most effective way to prevent the flu is the vaccine, which is 30 percent effective.

“Influenza can be a serious and deadly disease,” Dr. Price said. “By getting the flu vaccine you not only help protect yourself but you help protect family members and the community from flu outbreaks.”

Dr. Price said the upside of getting the vaccine is that those who still contract the flu after the vaccination tend to have a much milder case than those who do not. It is important to note the vaccine does not cause the flu.

Children should see their pediatrician or a general doctor to be checked out. Patients should only go to the hospital or emergency room if they are having persistent shortness of breath and not responding to any medication.

If those problems are occurring, they may be suffering from flu-like complications and need a chest x-ray. Complications can include dehydration, pneumonia and ear infections.

The emergency room is seeing more than 15 cases a day and patients may experience longer waiting times, so it is important to see the doctor first.

Dr. Price encourages everyone to keep a strict hand-washing regimen, spray Lysol and avoid contact with other individuals who seem to be feeling unwell.

If a child does come down with the flu, Dr. Price recommends them staying out of school for at least four days and waiting until their fever, cough and congestion is completely gone.

Children showing symptoms can visit Dr. Price’s office, Memorial Pediatrics beginning at 8 a.m., when walk in appointments start. The front desk will set everyone up an appointment and make sure they are seen about.

For more information, Dr. Price suggests parents visiting the CDC website and reading “flu facts” or contacting their child’s doctor.