Flu Still Hitting Hard Locally, Nationally
More than 60,000 people nationwide have contracted the flu during the 2017-2018 influenza season as of Jan. 6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Emergency rooms across the country, including those at all Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) hospitals, have been extremely busy with flu patients. The CDC reports flu activity as widespread in 49 of the 50 states, and 20 pediatric deaths reportedly have been flu-related.
“The good news is the flu season has likely peaked, although it will be a few weeks before we see it declining,” says Luther Rhodes, MD, Chief of Hospital Epidemiology at LVHN. “This is far from the worst flu season we’ve had. I’d call this an average year.”
As of Jan. 6, 11,530 flu cases had been reported across Pennsylvania, including 537 cases in Northampton County and 506 in Lehigh County, according to state Department of Health statistics. The flu has hit especially hard in western Pennsylvania, with 1,842 cases reported in Allegheny County, 658 in Westmoreland County and 588 in Washington County. There have been 560 cases reported in Berks County.
For most healthy people, the symptoms of the flu are like a bad cold. Usually, symptoms come on more abruptly and are more severe. Common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain
- Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea
Avoiding the Flu
Even though flu season appears to have peaked, getting a flu shot remains your best deterrent in case you come in contact with the influenza virus. Check with your primary care provider about a flu shot.
Other things to keep in mind when trying to avoid the flu:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs on your hands can easily spread this way.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
If You Have the Flu
If you need medical attention, chances are you will find local emergency rooms very crowded. We recommend you visit one of Lehigh Valley Physician Group’s 19 ExpressCARE locations, including the region’s only Children’s ExpressCARE specifically for kids at the Health Center at Palmer Township. Walk in to any ExpressCARE for care without an appointment. Visit our ExpressCARE page on LVHN.org to see the latest average wait time at most locations.