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Flu cases jump in West Michigan

10:07 AM, Dec 28, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The Kent County Health Department is sending out a warning, if you haven't already gotten your flu shot, get one.

A flu outbreak is underway and the cases are rising.

Flu season arrived about two months early in Michigan.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say this is the earliest regular flu season we've had in nearly a decade, and it's taken off in the last two weeks.

In Kent County, the number of confirmed cases jumped from 23 to 112 in just one week.

"And by confirmed cases, physicians run tests to confirm it is the flu," said Lisa LaPlante, spokesman for the Kent County Health Department.

"A lot of physicians don't bother to do the test because by the time people come into the doctor's office, they're already starting to recover from some of their symptoms."

Local emergency rooms are feeling the increase.

"On a typical year, 7% of ER visits are for flu-like symptoms. This year we're at 12%," said LaPlante.

LaPlante says what's more concerning is that this number may not include most children, unless they've been brought into the hospital. Schools are the other big factor in reporting cases, but they're still closed for break.

"So for us to see that many, that much of an increase at this point in the season, it is definitely something that we're being very diligent of," she said.

So she asks you to be vigilant. Number one is to get a flu shot. It's crucial to protect young children and the elderly.

But the CDC says less than half of children and adults in this country have done so.

However, that still won't completely protect you.

So, do the obvious. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

"You don't want to allow very young children to use hand sanitizer because if they start licking their fingers, they can get sick from the alcohol content."

But if the symptoms start:

"Body aches, fever, nausea, dizziness," said LaPlante.

LaPlante says stay home and definitely keep your children home if they are sick, because when school resumes, the flu will likely follow.

She says if your symptoms don't go away after a few days, see your doctor, especially if you start to become dehyrdated.

The flu vaccination takes two weeks to take affect, so get one now.

The vaccines are available for $25 as a shot, or $32 as a nasal mist.

The fee may be reduced for children who are low-income or uninsured.









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