Kern County doctors seeing hundreds with flu

Published 01/06 2014 06:41PM

Updated 01/07 2014 08:18AM

BAKERSFIELD, CA -- The flu continues to spread to all 50 states, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's not an epidemic. In Kern County, doctors are seeing hundreds of patients with the flu.

The health department said flu season happens every winter, so it's not pushing the panic button, but officials are concerned with the number of flu patients that are so sick, they're ending up in a hospital intensive care unit.

"The thing is, when you see somebody relatively young, severely ill, and even some of them dying from something that's preventable, then you have to warn folks," said Kern County Health Department's Dr. Claudia Jonah.

"You have to alert the doctors to let them know that many people are not handling this well."

Since mid-December, 24 people have been admitted to Kern County hospitals with the Flu. Eighteen of the patients ended up in ICU. Since Friday, four people were discharged. There have been no reported deaths from the flu in Kern County.

In other states, the death toll is rising. Recently, a 24-year-old woman in Indiana and a 5-year-old boy from Oregon died from the flu.

"There are persons getting kidney failure, ending up on ventilators, and having a very severe time with this infection," said Jonah.

At Sendas Northwest Urgent Care, doctors are seeing hundreds of patients with the flu.

"Within the first day or two, the patients are [feeling] wiped out, so in the urgent care setting we see a ton of them," said Dr. Rocky Chavez.

"Probably in the past month, we've seen a big spring of it.  I, myself, have probably seen easily over a hundred."

Dr. Chavez said none of his patients ended up in the hospital, but it's important to start treatment in the first 48 hours of symptoms. He said roughly 30 percent of flu patients had previously received the flu vaccination.

"You can still get the flu even though you've had the flu vaccine because strains we try to prophylactically prevent, that's done before the flu bug comes around," said Chavez.

"So we're not sure which strain is going to hit the community."

The peak for flu season is between January and February, so health department officials say there's still time to get flu shots.

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