Flu bug bites county

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, January 6, 2018
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Prepping for Flu

PREPPING FOR FLU – Local pharmacies are stocked with Tamiflu. The county has seen hundreds of cases of the virus this season. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Influenza has arrived in Wise County with a vengeance.

After a slow start to the season with just eight flu cases at Wise Health System in September and October combined, the number of positive cases of the virus spiked in December to 271. The number of patients arriving at the hospital with flu symptoms has not slowed in the new year.

“It’s not falling off,” said Kellye Souther, Wise Health System emergency services director.

Souther pointed out those numbers do not include cases treated at area doctor offices.

Wise Health System is at capacity and is holding patients in the ER until rooms become available. Souther said the staff convenes each day to go over the number of beds available.

Wise County medics have also been busier than normal to start the year with 198 calls in the first five days. Of those calls, 125 patients were evaluated or transported by medics. Officials said seven patients displayed flu-like symptoms.

Souther stressed the need to take preventative measures – washing hands and covering mouth when coughing. She also urged people with flu symptoms – especially a fever – to limit their exposure to others.

“Stay at home if you have a fever. At that stage, you’re the most contagious,” Souther said.

Flu vaccinations are still available. While many people that received a vaccination this year came down with the virus, Souther said it could lessen the symptoms or the duration of the cold.

Local pharmacies reported a sufficient supply of Tamiflu. Souther said the prescription medicine will help if the virus is caught early. Over-the-counter medicines, such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, can be used to reduce fever and treat symptoms.

Souther said it’s important to get fever down and stay hydrated.

“For a normal healthy person, they will get through it,” Souther said. “If you have significant issues breathing, go to the doctor.”

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