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Hundreds struck down in flu epidemic as pressure increases on region's hospitals

12 January 2018

- A spike in flu cases in NY and across the country has health officials urging people to get influenza vaccine if they haven't done so already.

Merrill South, the public relations manager for Baptist Health in Montgomery, said wait times have increased for non-emergency care and urged those with flu-like symptoms without signs of serious illness to first see their medical doctor or an urgent care facility before coming to an emergency room.

"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", ADPH said.

Officials said all of the dead were Dallas residents with "high risk health conditions" with ages ranging from 38 to 94. While he said the flu itself is no worse, he agreed that more people could be getting it because of a less effective vaccine.

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Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season. The city of Roanoake is aiming to get everyone vaccinated, by offering the shot for free at their fire station.

Chart showing Hong Kong's 2018 statistics for flu cases falling above the baseline.

The Iowa Department of Public Health now says 25 percent of all flu tests last week came back positive for Influenza.

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Health officials in North Carolina report four new flu deaths, while a school canceled classes for the rest of the week and hospitals placed restrictions on visitors because of the outbreak. The most recent statistics that include adults were from the week that ended December 16, when 6.7 percent of deaths reported to the National Center for Health Statistics were attributed to influenza and pneumonia. Triad hospitals are dealing with a surge of sick patients. Of the 421 students with flu-like illness, 118 of them were confirmed flu cases. A recent study out of Australia, which recently wrapped up its flu season, showed that a similar vaccine wasn't all that useful there. Werker noted the criticism about the effectiveness of this year's flu shot.

Vaccines are also available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies.

Children and the elderly are also not spared from the flu season. Babies, the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic diseases should take special approaches to avoiding and dealing with the flu and should see their primary care provider for antiviral medication if they are ill, he said.

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Hundreds struck down in flu epidemic as pressure increases on region's hospitals