Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that attacks the body’s respiratory system, including the throat and lungs. While a vaccine exists to protect people against this ailment, the flu is still a threat to many, particularly the extremely old and young, as well as those with compromised immune systems. For this reason, medical clinics in La Grange, GA are frantically treating patients after an unexpected spike in cases.
Flu season typically begins in early October, but the state of Georgia is experiencing a sudden increase in infections as the winter drags on. This is especially true in Troup County, where doctors say the number of patients has doubled in the past few weeks. As a result, people are lining up at doctors’ offices, immediate care centers, and even hospital emergency rooms for treatment.
Doctors in La Grange say that flu season in the area normally peaks in January; this year, the high numbers began before Christmas, with local pharmacies running out of medication due to demand. Urgent care centers in the area are reporting a 12-15% increase in patient volume from the previous year, but say they are determined not to turn anyone away.
Local experts believe the spike may be due to several different causes, including the potential inefficacy of the flu virus: the CDC has reported that one of this year’s most popular strains of the flu is not covered by the injection, making it only 56% effective. This problem is reportedly worsened by the state of many medical centers in the area, which are struggling to balance the high number of flu patients with their other services.
Despite its reduced effectiveness, doctors are recommending that people who have not been vaccinated make time to get the injection. Those who have the virus are advised to visit an immediate care center instead of a hospital emergency room to prevent increasing wait times.
“Here in Phoenix, AZ we have been experiencing an increased rate of flu cases as well,” says Terri Porter, Clinic Administrator, Doctors Express Phoenix. “We have a large amount of winter visitors, including the influx of tourists for The Phoenix Open Golf Tournament as well as the added population here to enjoy the Super Bowl. Local residents, especially those working in the tourist industry, are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible if they have not already done so.”
In many parts of the country, flu season can last until April. To handle the challenge, immediate care clinics in La Grange have extended their hours and even hired additional staff. Many are also handing out surgical masks and recommending that patients wash their hands to prevent the spread of the virus. If symptoms are noticed, health clinics in Troup County have advised patients to seek medical care within 48 hours.