PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN/CNN) – The flu season has been deadly all over the country, including Oregon and Washington State. Two children and an elderly person have died in the area.
Cases of the flu have increased so much in the last few weeks that emergency rooms are getting overcrowded, and it’s making those who catch it miserable.
Charles Hanset’s family was hit by the flu. He described the symptoms: “My body aching, fever, hot-cold, runny nose, coughing, just horrible, not doing too good.”
Hanset said he got a flu shot three months ago. “I was bragging to myself that everybody else was sick all around me for the last few weeks and I didn’t get anything. Now it’s hit me like a ton of bricks.”
So far, he said five of his family members have been sick. His mom is still recovering. “She missed like two weeks from work from it so she got it pretty bad,” Hanset said.
A spike in flu cases has created overcrowding in emergency rooms locally and nationwide.
At Peace Health Southwest in Vancouver, staff saw a 20 percent overall general increase in people who are using the ER and a 16 percent increase in patients who have been admitted overnight.
Clark County, Washington Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick said, “Right now the emergency rooms are backed up.”
Dr. Melnick said a graph shows that cases started to spike around mid-December, as indicated by the red line.
He said every year in the U.S. there are several thousand to 50,000 deaths from the flu. Last year 26 people died in Clark County alone.
Dr. Melnick said, “So far this year, we’ve had one death that’s attributed to the flu.” He said people who are confused or dazed, or who experience severe chest pains, should consider going for emergency treatment.
But if you simply have a fever or cough, he’s asking you to see your regular doctor instead.
“You are backing it up for other people with other problems and you are transmitting the disease to them,” Dr. Melnick explained.
Hanset said he’ll be making an appointment with his family doctor. “Just staying completely hydrated and taking it easy.”
Health officials in Australia estimated that this year’s shot might only be 10 percent effective, but Dr. Melnick says it’s too early in the season to tell. He also said getting a flu shot is still the best way to protect yourself, and that any percentage is better than nothing.