- Half of Americans worried about second Cold War: poll
- Kermit Gosnell clinic aide who heard aborted baby scream gets 5 to 10 years in prison
- Iraq mulls law to let men marry 8-year-old girls
- Russia sends bombers on 24-hour Arctic patrol
- Sam Adams beer brewer nixes St. Patrick’s parade that won’t allow gays
- Houston dad kills boy, 17, in daughter’s room in mistaken ID tragedy
- Rep. David Jolly ready to work with Democrats on compromise
- Joe Biden: I can’t be president — my golf would suffer
- German authorities grab suspected hardline Islamist
- Rare lesbian HIV transmission case turns up in Texas
Flu season hits early and, in some places, hard
NEW YORK (AP) - From the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms. Some medical centers have limited visitors, and one Pennsylvania hospital set up a tent outside its ER to handle the feverish patients.
Flu season in the U.S. has hit early and, in some places, hard. But whether this will be considered a bad season by the time it has run its course in the spring remains to be seen.
“Those of us with gray hair have seen worse,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a flu expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
The evidence so far is pointing to a moderate season, Schaffner and others believe. It just looks bad compared with last year _ an unusually mild one.
Flu usually doesn’t blanket the country until late January or February, but it is already widespread in more than 40 states.
What’s probably complicating the situation: The main influenza virus this year tends to make people sicker. And there are other bugs out there causing flu-like illnesses. So what people are calling the flu may, in fact, be something else.
The flu’s early arrival in the U.S. coincided with spikes in a variety of other viruses, including a childhood malady that mimics flu and a new norovirus that causes what some people call “stomach flu.”
Most people don’t undergo lab tests to confirm flu, and the symptoms are so similar that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish flu from other viruses, or even a cold. Over the holidays, 250 people were sickened at a Mormon missionary training center in Utah, but the culprit turned out to be a norovirus, not the flu.
Flu is a major contributor, though, to what’s going on.
“I’d say 75 percent,” said Dr. Dan Surdam, head of the emergency department at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Wyoming’s largest hospital. The 17-bed ER saw its busiest day ever last week, with 166 visitors.
The early onslaught has resulted in a spike in hospitalizations, prompting hospitals to take steps to deal with the influx and protect other patients from getting sick, including restricting visits from children, requiring family members to wear masks, and banning anyone with flu symptoms from maternity wards.
One hospital in Allentown, Pa., this week set up a tent for a steady stream of patients with flu symptoms.
On Wednesday, Boston declared a public health emergency, and all the flu activity has caused some to question whether this year’s flu shot is working.
TWT Video Picks
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
- EXCLUSIVE: FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- Sam Adams beer brewer nixes St. Patrick's parade that won't allow gays
- College group's diversity event canceled after excluding white people
- F-35 secrets now showing up in Chinas stealth fighter
- Deportations come mostly from border, DHS chief says
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- USS Kidd sent to Indian Ocean after 'indication' of Malaysian jet crash
- EDITORIAL: Lois Lerner's dilemma
- BRUCE: The power of bossy
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014