ATHENS — An outbreak of influenza-like-illness (ILI) that has spread across the country has hit Henderson County hard.
East Texas Medical Center Athens Infection Preventionist Mary Pruitt said the Athens hospital is full with every bed taken, and has been that way for several days. She said the hospital emergency room has seen its record for number of patients seen in a day broken twice in the past week.
The ER, which usually averages well less than 100 patients, saw 146 one day.
The most current flu surveillance report from the Texas State Department of State Health Services lists activity as “widespread” and the intensity as “high.”
Nationally, the numbers are up as well.
“Reports of influenza-like-illness (ILI) are nearing what have been peak levels during moderately severe seasons,” said Dr. Joe Bresee, who is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in Centers for Disease Control’s Influenza Division.
“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Bresee.
Pruitt said things are bad enough that “if you don’t have to go out, stay home.”
She also asked that people suffering with a common cold not come to the hospital or visit the emergency room in order to allow the hospital to treat those who are seriously ill.
Pruitt said one of the key indicators is fever. Flu and more serious instances of ILI often bring a temperature of 102 degrees or higher.
“People with a common cold will run a temperature more like 99.6 or 100,” she said, “and not have the higher temperature.”
Health professionals encourage everyone to practice common sense habits to protect yourself:
- Avoid close contact
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
- Clean your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Get plenty of sleep, be active, drink plenty of fluids, eat right.
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“The flu is a bad thing and you don’t want it,” said Pruitt.