Emergency Rooms Seeing More Patients During Flu Season - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Emergency Rooms Seeing More Patients During Flu Season

A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed this season's flu vaccine has been one of the least effective in a decade.

The study shows it's only 23-percent effective.  Reports show 26 children had died in the United Stated from the flu.

Part of the problem is that the vaccine isn't well matched with the most frequent strain that's circulating right now, which is the H3N2 flu virus.

“They isolated the wrong strain,” John Hilmi the Emergency Department Chairman at United Regional said.

Health officials said experts reformulate the vaccine by guessing which three or four strains of the flu will be the biggest problem.  However, that decision is usually made in February, which is months before the flu season.

“This time, unfortunately what happened was there was a drift.  Meaning that it essentially mutated,” he said.

The CDC said the flu is very active in more than half of the states in the United States, including Texas and Oklahoma.  Reports showed 26 children have died in the U.S.

Doctors said this might be why parents are more concerned.  So, they are going to the hospital to get treatment rather than going to their primary doctor.

“I think that people are a little, but paranoid to be honest,” Hilmi said, “A little on edge about it.”

With more people heading to the emergency room for treatment, he said you should be prepared for delays.

He said, “If it's basically the run of the mill type of thing you can wait up to an hour out in the waiting room.”

He said they will take patients back to see the doctors based on how sick they are, not by the order in which they came in.

“If it's more serious you'll be brought back quickly,” Hilmi said, “What we call level one of level two's are brought back very quickly and are seen by a doctor much less that 15 minutes you'll be seen.”

So if you have the flu, or flu like symptoms, he said you should try to treat your symptoms on your own first.

“I think, really you should wait it out a little bit,” he said.

However, if your symptoms get worse doctors said you should go to the ER as soon as you can.  A list of those symptoms are listed below.

In Children:

-       Fast breathing or trouble breathing
-       Bluish or gray skin color
-       Not drinking enough fluids
-       Severe or persistent vomiting
-       Not waking up or not interacting
-       Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
-       Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough

In Adults:

-       Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
-       Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
-       Sudden dizziness
-       Confusion
-       Severe or persistent vomiting
-       Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Health experts said the best way to protect yourself is by getting the flu vaccine.  They said even though this years vaccine is less effective, some protection is better than none.

Alexandra McClung, Newschannel 6
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