Local hospitals deal with large number of flu patients

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Local emergency rooms are busy with a spike in flu cases around the metro. A spokesperson at the University of Kansas says the hospital has seen close to 300 flu cases since October, which isn't too far out of the ordinary. But other hospitals are dealing with record number flu cases and among the ill are hospital employees.

Overland Park Regional Medical Center said it's seen a record number of flu cases in the ER in January. Many of the cases have been severe with patients having to be admitted to the intensive care unit. Also, 14 of the hospital’s nurses were out with a flu virus this past week alone.

Flu cases have been keeping the emergency room busy at Menorah Medical Center as well. Doctor Denise Miller says most of the cases have been influenza type-a.

“I'd say it's probably tripled in the last couple of weeks from what we were seeing. We're really getting into the heart of the season," Dr. Miller said.

Some may be tempted to try and ride the flu out at home, but Dr. Miller cautions against that action.

"The reason I don't want people to wait, especially if it is influenza, is that the sooner you get on the medication, the more effective it is,” she said. “The medications we use for influenza don't cure it, but they suppress the virus so it doesn't get as bad and it doesn't last as long."

Menorah has seen some flu cases with the H1N1 virus, which seems to hit hardest among the healthy population.

"It is a little bit different in that it does affect young, healthy people. We see a rise in those people getting very sick with it. Whereas with a lot of the other typical flus, the patients that get the worst case are the very young or the very old,” Dr. Miller said.

Flu vaccine supplies may have run low late last year, but Dr. Miller and the Kansas City Health Department say you should be able to get a shot now and urge you to do so.

"Understand that the flu vaccine is a strain of viruses that they think are going to be the most prevalent. It doesn't give you 100% immunity, but it does give you some protection,” she said.

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