The flu season began about a month early this year. Many predicted a stronger-than-usual strain of influenza that could lead to more cases and potential deaths.
Dr. Melissa Denham, medical director for Patient First’s office in East York, seems to agree. “Last year’s flu season was rather mild. This year, the season started early and strong.”
In Pennsylvania, several people have died of complications from the flu virus. Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown even opened an emergency triage tent to accommodate a growing number of patients with flu-like symptoms.
A health emergency has been declared by the mayor of Boston where more than 700 cases of the virus, and several deaths have been reported.
It seems the uptick in Flu cases has been felt in York as well.
“We have seen a significant increase in patients over the last few weeks, and many of the patients coming in have flu-like symptoms. Many of our medical centers are seeing twice as many patients as we saw in early December,” she said.
However, Denham says the sickness has been a little less severe than what Boston is experiencing. “While we are seeing a high number of flu cases, the ones coming through our doors are relatively mild. So, as far as the flu goes, this strain isn’t particularly worse than years passed.”
Denham isn’t sure if we’ve seen the worst of the virus yet. “The flu season typically peaks in January or February, and can sometimes linger through March. But it’s very difficult to predict where things will go from here.”
Dr. Melissa Denham believes “the best way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot. It’s not too late to get one, but remember that it takes about two weeks from the time the shot is given for you to develop maximum protection. And if you think you have the flu, stay home.
“Reasons to seek medical attention include shortness of breath, extreme weakness, persistent vomiting, or dehydration.”
Get the shot
Find out where to get vaccinated at www.flu.gov.