Though peak of flu season later than usual, doctors seeing uptick in flu cases

    FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

    It's that time of year when people start calling in sick with the flu. Doctors say they’re seeing an uptick in cases.

    The peak of flu season is a little later than usual; doctors say usually December to March is the flu season.

    Local health experts say they’ve been packed recently with people coming down with it.

    More people are starting to walk through the hospital front doors with the flu, but Dr. Dan Nafziger says even with the recent uptick, it's not as bad as last year.

    “The CDC is still estimating around 25,000 deaths nationally this year from the flu, so it’s not a small number but it’s not a particularly bad year,” said Dr. Dan Nafziger, Goshen Hospital Chief Medical Officer.

    He says this year's flu has taken its time to show up. He's also seeing people confuse Influenza with the norovirus, otherwise known as the stomach flu.

    “Influenza typically is a respiratory disease where people will have high fevers, chills, muscle aches, joint aches, feel kind of sick all over, whereas stomach flu or norovirus people have a lot of nausea vomiting or diarrhea,” said Nafziger.

    Since the flu can happen year-round, it's important to continuously wash your hands.

    “Part of this is not catching it and part of it is not spreading it,” said Nafziger.

    Nafziger advises it's also not too late to get the flu shot, but it does take a week for it to really take hold. He also says people get too bogged down looking at numbers.

    “It’s 50% effective at keeping you from getting the flu, but it may be 80-90% effective of saving your life,” said Nafziger.

    It's the secondary illnesses like pneumonia or empyema that can kill people. He's seen at least two flu-related deaths this season.

    “You can have influenza and it can cause you to have a heart attack,” said Nafziger. “It may be the heart attack that kills you, but if you hadn’t gotten the influenza or you had a milder case of influenza, it might have saved your life to get that vaccine.”

    Nafziger says if people start to feel the symptoms, the best thing to do is stay home.

    Children are the most likely age group to spread the flu.

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