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Tampa Bay Area hospitals see big spike in flu E.R. cases as flu season picks up

Posted: 8:49 PM, Jan 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-08 01:49:15Z
Flu cases increasing in FL

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Flu season is picking up and hospitals and physicians say they’ve seen a big spike in flu cases in the last few weeks.

Since the season started in October, the spread of the virus has been slow compared to last year. But in the last few weeks, the numbers of flu cases across the U.S. have escalated.

Physicians say they’re seeing it start to really pick up in the Tampa Bay Area.

"This month we saw over twice as many as the previous month," said Juan Dumois, Infectious Disease Physician at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

All Children’s Hospital saw 180 flu cases come into the E.R. last month. Florida Hospital says they saw 70 cases come into one of their E.R.'s in the last week of December, and their Wesley Chapel E.R. had more than 100 flu cases in just the first few days of January.

"We’ve got a couple of months still of rampant flu season," said Dumois.

Dr. Dumois says young children under two-years-old and adults over 65 are at the most risk to be hospitalized.

"It's not too late to get the flu shot because you start to develop pretty good protection against the flu about a week and definitely two weeks after you get the shot," said Dumois.

Dr. Dumois says the flu is mostly spread by touching your face after touching surfaces like door handles or countertops where the virus can live for hours.

"Don’t touch your face even to adjust glasses, until you’ve disinfected," said Dumois.

Tips on top of getting the flu shot are:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizers
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • If you do get sick, stay home until fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication).

Doctors say the season has not yet peaked so it's important to still get a flu shot.