Local emergency rooms seeing high number of flu patients

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 23, 2018

Photo: Pxhere

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Emergency rooms across the Big Bend are seeing an unusually active flu season.

Allison Castillo, the Director of Emergency Services at Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee, says the flu season started off slowly, but is now making a dramatic spike.

She says the hospital is seeing more than 50 people coming into the E.R. each day with flu-like symptoms. That's why they have masks at every entrance of the hospital, as well as tissues and hand sanitizer.

Castillo suggests people try not to go in highly populated areas if they can help it and practice good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs.

She says if you have symptoms of the flu, don't hesitate to seek medical advice. Symptoms include body aches, fever, cough and sore throat. More severe symptoms can be shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Castillo says the flu can last three to five days, or for some people, ten days or more. It depends on the individual.

"It's spread through respiratory secretions. It can live outside of the body on surfaces for several hours. So, someone sneezes and you touch that door knob or that shopping cart that they touched, and then you touch your mouth or nose, very easy way to transmit the virus," Castillo said.

Castillo says Capital Regional is fully prepared and equipped to handle the influx of flu patients. She says administration has added extra doctors, nurses and equipment.

The Centers for Disease Control says you are 200 percent more likely to get the virus this season.

This year's strain is especially dangerous for children, pregnant women and seniors. There are already two flu-related child deaths in Florida, and 12 total deaths in Georgia. All of those victims were over the age of 50.

Castillo advises everyone to get the flu shot. She says it can prevent the flu or at least lower the severity and length of the flu.

Local resident Mark Ringlever said he gets the flu shot every year.

"I do other things as well. Eat well, run, cycle. So, keep yourself healthy. Anything that you can do to prevent something that's unwanted," said Ringlever.

Resident Karen Mack does not get the flu shot.

She says, "There's mercury and there are other chemicals and preservatives. It's just not worth it to me. It's not very effective. I think it's only 30 percent effective this year."

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