Hawaii health care facilities experience uptick in flu cases

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Emergency rooms, urgent care clinics and family physicians are all dealing with a higher-than-normal number of patients who have the flu. "Take a deep breath," Dr. Perri Quan says during an exam in one of Pali Momi's emergency rooms. One out of four patients he sees has symptoms of the influenza that's driving people to ER's and doctors offices, and it isn't slowing down. "I would say, just from personal experience, maybe it's still on an upward trend," he said. People who catch it can be sick for days, with fever and chills, body aches, coughs, nausea and vomiting. Halfway into his shift at The Queens Medical Center emergency room Thursday, Dr. Han Park had treated three flu sufferers. "We are seeing increased numbers and also the severity of the flu that we've been seeing, especially in the elderly," he said. A doctor who did not want to be identified told Hawaii News Now one hospital recently suspended elective surgery admissions for a day. There was no room because many beds were taken up by flu patients. People over 65 and children younger than two are at greater risk, especially if they have a respiratory condition. "If they need oxygen, we give them oxygen. If they're dehydrated, we give them fluids through an IV." Park said. Doctors will prescribe Tamiflu. But several pharmacies Hawaii News Now contacted were out of the medicine. "When you take it, at it's best I think that it decreases the length of your illness maybe by a day," Quan said. Flu shots take about two weeks to take effect. "People have been saying the vaccine is not as effective. Even though people have been vaccinated, they're still coming down with it," Park said. If you get sick, stay home until about 24 hours after a fever breaks. "If you are coughing and sneezing, what you should try to do is cough into the bend of your elbow," Quan said. "That decreases your transmission to other people." To help keep from catching the bug, wash your hands regularly. The typical flu season lasts about 13 weeks. we're into week eight.

Share your thoughts here...