Flu cases increase in North Alabama - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Flu cases increase in North Alabama

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Doctors and emergency rooms across North Alabama are seeing an increase in flu cases.

According to Huntsville Pediatrics, they saw 60 patients Wednesday with flu symptoms. They said 23 patients tested positive for influenza A, the more severe form of flu, and one tested positive for influenza B.

Westminster Christian Academy's Brockway campus closed early Thursday because of a large number of flu cases at the school. They will remain closed on Friday while the school is sanitized.

Over at Huntsville Pediatric Associates, they are seeing about 60 cases a day of patients with flu like symptoms. About half of those patients actually test positive for the flu.

Doctors said this sudden spike is an early onset to the flu season.

At this time, most of the cases seem to be influenza Type-A, which is the more serious strain of the flu.

"All of these people getting influenza Type A right now are wishing they had gotten the flu vaccine, but they still have a chance. There are still two other types of the flu out there lurking. They should go ahead and get that flu vaccine after they recover from the flu. It's not too late," said immunization coordinator, Dr. Tim Stewart.

The vaccine is still available at doctor's offices and pharmacies.

The health department said they have a handful of vaccines left, but they will not be holding any more free clinics.

Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said he's seen signs of sickness and a drop in attendance in the last few weeks.

"There have been quite a few kids with running noses, fevers, flu like symptoms," he said.  "We've seen more of those than we've seen all year, so we are very concerned but lucky that it hasn't gotten that strong with us."

Fowler wants to keep it that way, so he's having his teachers do their own disinfecting and he's sending emails to parents to remind them to keep their hands and their kids hands clean, to cover up coughs and if you feel sick to stay at home until it passes. 

"We're knocking on wood right now that maybe we can get by this until winter break and everybody can get well and we can come back again in January," he said. 

Geraldine Tibbs, Director of Communications for Madison County Schools said  they have a few cases of  flu in the schools. They say their absentee rate is slightly higher than usual due to  reported cases of flu and other illnesses, but not very much.  

Tibbs encourages students to take the "Stay Healthy" approach by: Covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing; washing their hands frequently with soap and water; and staying home when sick.

According to the CDC, flu activity is high in Alabama. Health officials predict this could be a higher than average flu season.

Children 6-months-old and older should get a flu shot. Seasonal flu vaccines protect against three influenza viruses that will be most common during the upcoming season.

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, you should also take preventative actions to stop the spread of germs, including covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Health officials recommend washing your hands often with soap and water, or using hand sanitizer.

If you do get the flu, it's important to stay home and rest. You should also avoid close contact with people who aren't sick.

Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent dehydration, and treat fever and cough with medicines you can buy at the store.

People who are pregnant or have a medical condition that puts you at higher risk of flu complications (like asthma), should call their doctor.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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