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Feb 14, 2014 1:26 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Flu spike keeps hospitals busier than usual

TUCSON - This year's flu strain is keeping some hospitals busier than their usual seasonal spike.

University of Arizona Medical Center's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Andreas Theodorou, said he has seen patients from all over the state.

"We have people that are middle-aged, normal, healthy folks who get this virus and get so severely sick that they have to be on advanced forms of life support," Theodorou said.

This year's strains of flu are hitting young adults at a higher proportion than usual. 19 to 49-year-olds account for 39 percent of reported cases, according to the latest report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Theodorou said the numbers could be lower if people got vaccinated, washed their hands more often and stayed home the entire time they were sick.

"Your symptoms should be gone," he said. "Because if you're still having symptoms, even if you're better, you're probably still contagious."

Carondelet Saint Mary's Hospital had more flu cases with 71 positive tests at this time in 2013, compared to 131 cases this year.

Tucson Medical Center had 450 more patients in January 2014 compared to 2013.

UAMC saw fewer people in their emergency department. They saw 6,598 patients in Januay 2013 and 6,300 in 2014.

Northwest Medical Center had fewer positive lab tests for flu this year compared to last year.

Statewide, reports per week are starting to decline. But this season is still busier than average, so doctors still encourage flu shots.

Pima County has reported about 200 cases 3 weeks in a row. Those numbers are much lower than the actual cases because most people do not see a doctor when they get sick.

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