Local doctors seeing excess of flu cases
By DREW GRANTHUM/Staff Writer
Chilton County is an area of the state of Alabama with significant influenza activity detected, according to a recent report by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
According to the ADPH, for the week ending on Dec. 27, 2014, “the geographic spread of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Alabama was widespread.”
Likewise, local doctors’ offices have seen a rise in flu cases.
“We had quite a few,” Sonya Andrews, licensed practical nurse at Chilton Pediatrics, said. “I’d say on a daily basis, we have (had) 10-15 cases.”
Andrews said the office saw a rise in the number of cases between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Right around Christmas, (and) two to three weeks before, that’s when everyone we tested had influenza,” she said.
Sharon Driggers, office manager at Chilton Urgent Care, said the office has seen a considerable amount of cases as well.
“Every other person seems to have it,” she said. “It’s been a very volatile winter season. From what I’ve seen, (we’ve) had four workers that were sick. It started with a fever and sore throat, then progressed into a full-blown cold.”
Driggers said the amount of those seeking medical attention was alarming.
“You would not believe the volume (of people) and the suffering,” she said. “Today was the first day where we haven’t had people lined up (to receive care).”
In the ADPH release, the “level (of cases) indicates that influenza-like illness (ILI) was above Alabama’s threshold for recognized significance (5.99 percent) in at least half of the state’s Public Health Areas (PHAs), or there were reported outbreaks, with recent laboratory-confirmed influenza (within the last three weeks) in the same PHAs.”
Dr. William Talley, who works out of Chilton Urgent Care, said he’s seen how much of an impact the virus has had on Chilton County.
“From the beginning of November, it’s hit hard,” he said. “What I’ve read is that every December the CDC meets and decides what the flu vaccine for the fall (should be). By the time they put (this year’s) together, the virus had shifted from it.”
Talley said the particular strain prevalent this year was H1N2, and that while the current flu vaccine was not as strong in preventing infection, he still advised receiving it.
Talley said the age groups that had been hit hard by the virus were the “very young, the very old” and that those with lung problems “need to be very aware” of the severity of the strain going around.
“Older folks…they get hit hard,” he said.
Talley also said that preventative measure could be taken to try and avoid infection.
“Wash your hands,” he said. “If you get it, try to stay indoors. Do your best to keep it (contained).”
Proper hygiene, such as a good hand-washing technique and teaching children to sneez into their elbow, as well as parents paying attention to symptoms was crucial in helping prevent the virus spreading among children, Andrews said.
“If your kids are running fever (keep) them at home,” she said.