ER 'sees influx' of Flu patients - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

ER 'sees influx' of Flu patients

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

We could be in for a rough flu season.

It's a little early but Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is already seeing an influx of people showing up at the emergency center with flu symptoms.

Dozens of people have been diagnosed with the flu already this season and Phoebe's seeing about a 30 percent increase in patients.

Thursday night, doctors are urging you to be careful and get your flu shot.

At Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, doctors are running numerous flu tests a day and seeing positive results.

"We have seen 1000 patients this week, that is way over and above what we would normally see, I was told that yesterday alone we had 40 positive flu tests," said Dr. Joel Holcombe, Phoebe Putney Emergency Medicine Physician.

 Flu season has made it's way to Southwest Georgia early this year, meaning some people might not have had the chance to get their flu vaccine yet.

The majority of flu cases they have seen have been in people who did not get the vaccine.

"It is good to get the vaccine in the fall because the typical flu season is January or February, not in October, November like we are seeing currently," said Holcombe.

Health officials are not sure where it is coming from but they say it only takes one person to bring it in to the community.

"Avoid contact with other people, use good hand hygiene especially when you are visiting someone in the hospital who has the flu, there are alcohol stations throughout the hospital you can alcohol your hands off," said Holcombe.

Holcombe says with an outbreak this early, it could mean an even worse flu season.

"We could nip this in the bud, but as many people as we have seen in the last week that have been positive on our flu testing, it is a big worry whether we are going to have an even worse season or not," said Holcombe.

The flu strains have been identified by the CDC and are all included in this year's flu vaccine.

He hopes this early outbreak will convince those who have not gotten their vaccine, to go ahead and get one.

You can get a flu shot from the health department and most pharmacies for about $25.

For more information on the flu shot click here.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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