IRVING, Texas (CBS11) – North Texas hospitals are bracing for a bad flu season that will almost certainly get worse.
“We are seeing a ton of influenza and upper respiratory illnesses,” says Seamus Lonergan, M.D., an emergency room physician at Baylor Scott & White Irving. He says those germs shared during the holidays are doing their damage now.
“We do worry about this time and we always see a huge spike in visits to our ER after the holidays,” says Dr. Lonergan. “People travel across the country and as different strains of different viruses are shared through airports and airplanes, and so on. We had our highest volume through the ER in two years here just yesterday.”
He says they are seeing so many patients with flu and flu like symptoms that staffers are spending less time testing– and are moving quickly to treatment.
“Last week we were running about a 40 percent positive rate on our flu testing which is very, very high.”
By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control is reporting an increase from about 14 percent to 22.4 percent of flu tests nationwide coming back positive.
Across the country, thousands of deaths have been reported from the flu and pneumonia. Among them, 12 children.
Isabel Martinez was taking no chances.
“She keeps like breathing fast and and I’m like, no, that’s not okay,” says Martinez of her two year old daughter, Isabella. “That’s something for us to go to the hospital.”
Martinez says she is well aware that both the elderly and very young are at high risk for dangerous flu complications.
“I saw that the percentage from last year to this year went up,” Martinez added, while admitting that after days of scratchy throat symptoms and a nephew’s illness, “yes, I’m worried for my little one.”
So far there have been no pediatric deaths reported in North Texas. But, doctors are encouraging everyone to take extra precautions with vulnerable populations– the young, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions.
“Deaths from flu, although they’re there, have not spiked in a really severe way at this point,” says Dr. Lonergan. “We all need to be aware that when everybody’s running around with the flu we need to take those precautions to keep ourselves and our families as safe as possible.”