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CDC: Flu outbreak considered an epidemic, Bay Area hospitals treating more patients

All of U.S. has 'widespread' flu activity
Posted at 9:40 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 23:11:46-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The emergency room at Tampa General Hospital is already a busy place, but with temperatures plunging across the Bay Area doctors anticipate more patients showing up with the flu and other viruses.

“We are starting to see the spike in influenza,” Dr. Andrew Thomas said.

When is it time to go to go to the ER? Thomas said once you feel like you’ve lost control, it is time.

“Chills, fever, body aches, nausea, diarrhea and cough,” Thomas said.  

As the virus intensifies  Thomas said people can begin to experience even more severe symptoms.  

“Breathing fast or working hard to breath racing heartbeat feeling weak or like you much pass out not able to hold down food or water,” Thomas said.  

The young, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems shouldn’t wait to see a doctor for treatment. However, with this strain of the flu it has been deadly in healthy young adults.

“It is going to end up costing the lives of some young healthy people that we wouldn’t expect to die,” Thomas said. 

RELATED: Free and low-cost flu shot options in Florida

In Pennsylvania, Kyler Baughman seemed to be the face of fitness. The 21-year-old aspiring personal trainer filled his Facebook page with photos of himself riding motorbikes and lifting weights. He once posted an image of a kettlebell with a skeleton, reading: “CrossFit, hard to kill.”

He came down with the flu last month. 

“I think he thought, ‘I just got the flu; I’ll be all right,’” his mother, Beverly Baughman, told NBC affiliate WPXI.

But, days after Christmas, Kyler Baughman was worse — coughing and running a fever, he went to a nearby hospital in western Pennsylvania and, from there, was flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, but later died.

The influenza A subtype H3N2 that appears to be most prevalent this year is particularly nasty, with more-severe symptoms including fever and body aches. Australia — whose experience U.S. public health officials follow closely in making their flu forecasts, in part because Australia's winter is our summer — reported a record-high number of confirmed flu cases in 2017. Another influenza B virus subtype also is circulating, "and that's no fun, either," Bergen said.

Usually, just one subtype, either influenza A or B, is responsible for the majority of cases. It spreads much easier in the cold weather.

One includes the so-called ‘Aussie flu’, a strain of influenza A which wreaked havoc on hospitals in Australia during the country’s winter.