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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014


Washington Observer-Reporter: Flu cases skyrocketing at area hospitals

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

By Brad Hundt, Staff writer


Like a department store that's firing up "Jingle Bells" before Halloween, the flu has hit the region early this year.
You can find a chorus of coughing and a medley of bodily aches and pains in doctors' offices and hospital waiting rooms more than two months before the typical flu season reaches it peak.

"We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients presenting in our emergency department with influenza in the last 10 days," according to Brenda Walther, director of emergency medicine at Monongahela Valley Hospital.

In fact, flu is widespread across Pennsylvania, according to the state's Department of Health, with the southwest corner getting smacked the hardest. For the week ending Oct. 10, cases statewide had increased by 126 percent from the week before, with most striking the 10-to-18-year-old age group.



"More than 99 percent" of the influenza viruses that are floating around are the H1N1 or "swine flu" virus, according to Stacy Kriedeman, a spokeswoman for the state's health department.
"It's skyrocketing," she continued. "We don't see much activity at this time of year. This is very unusual."

The widespread publicity about H1N1 has likely led people to their doctor's office or closest hospital to be tested for the virus, where in a more typical year they would have toughed it out at home and waited for the symptoms to pass.

Though she doesn't want to discourage people from seeing their doctors or coming to the hospital, Beverly Mueller, the nursing director of Canonsburg Hospital's emergency department, said there's not a lot they can do to treat people infected with H1N1 if they are otherwise healthy.

"People should stay at home, away from other people," Mueller explained. They should also stay hydrated and take a pain reliever such as Tylenol. If they start to experience respiratory problems, though, they should seek treatment.

To read more, visit the Observer-Reporter web site.


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