Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Ed Yeates ReportingThe flu is coming on fast and furious along the Wasatch Front. Experts fear it could be a bad flu season and it's getting an early start.
Nicole Stone, Epidemiologist, State Health: "This many cases we don't generally see until January and February."
The Centers for Disease Control says there are some nasty strains of the disease out there. And this may be a very bad year for the flu. So far doctors here in Utah aren't seeing anything to make them doubt that.
86 plus official cases as of tonight. But that's just a barometer. The actual sickness level out here is much higher and growing. Many are coming into E.R.'s like the one at Alta View Hospital, getting treatment and then going home.
At Primary Children's Hospital 61 cases confirmed since October 15th. Yesterday alone, the E.R. treated eight kids during the day and another eleven last night. 50 of the State Health Department's reported cases came in this past week.
Nicole Stone, Epidemiologist, State Health Dept.: "We haven't seen that many cases reported in one week I don't think for many, many years."
At a pediatric clinic in northern Utah, 60 percent of the quick tests on sick kids are now coming up positive for influenza. Pediatricians are very much aware of concerns from the CDC.
Justin Alvey, M.D., Pediatrician, Wee Care Pediatrics: "There are a number of factors which make us think that this season might be one of the worst ones coming up, both because it's hitting earlier and might be a little more widespread. And the strain of virus that's been circulating in some parts of the world is a little more virulent."
Influenza cases range in age from one month to 86 years. Because it's hitting early, many have been caught off guard for flu shots. There's plenty of vaccine. But if you can't get a flu shot right away and symptoms appear, State Health is advising alternative use of oral anti-viral medications which can reduce the severity of the illness.
Nicole Stone, Epidemiologist, State Health Dept: "So, people who come down with influenza like symptoms should see a physician right a way. Don't wait more than a day."
So again, how do you tell the difference with all the other illnesses going around? If sickness and fever come on fast and strong, knocking you down in bed, you've probably got the flu.