ALBANY, GA (WALB) - South Georgia doctors are seeing a sharp increase in flu cases. Phoebe Putney Hospital officials say the spike is taxing their emergency room resources.
Georgia and other states in the southeast have the highest flu activity in the country right now. Hospital officials want patients to try to avoid emergency rooms
Emergency room Doctors and Nurses at Phoebe Putney Hospital are very busy today. Medical officials say the flu is not epidemic in South Georgia, but the increase is dramatic.
Phoebe Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Kitchen said, "We're not there, but we're seeing a big, big increases in the number of cases."
The last week of November the Phoebe emergency room say 79 confirmed cases of the flu. Last week they saw 500 patients with flu like symptoms, and treated 200 confirmed cases of the flu.
"It's certainly taxing the resources that we have, but in a way we have a preparedness plan," Kitchen said. "We do appeal to people consult their primary care physicians if they have questions of the flu or symptoms of the flu. Because often times those can be answered by their primary care physicians. Often times can be treated with a phone call."
Phoebe officials are asking normally healthy people with flu like symptoms, like fever, aches and pains, cough, and shortness of breath, not to go to the emergency room as a first source of medical care.
Phoebe officials say the elderly and the very young are the most susceptible to the flu and most likely to have secondary complications like pneumonia. Last week 90 percent of Phoebe's children's ward were flu patients. And medical officials say the flu season is getting worse.
During the busy holiday period, crowded malls and airports are places where the flu can spread easily. Doctors urge you to get a flu shot, avoid crowds when you can, and wash your hands often.