The flu season has arrived early in Stillwater, and according to local health officials, it’s ramping up.
The week ending Dec. 6 saw 65 influenza cases requiring hospitalization in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. That’s compared with 15 cases during the same timeframe last year.
“We are starting to see an increase in flu cases, both in the emergency department at Lakeview and in the clinics,” Dr. Mark Newman of Lakeview Hospital’s Emergency Department said. “We are bracing for a busier than usual flu season because of the virulence of the particular strain of flu that seems to be showing up.”
Signs and symptoms of influenza include fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, cough, vomiting and diarrhea, Newman said.
“People at the extremes of age and those with other medical conditions – particularly heart and lung disease – are the most at risk,” he said. “Good hygiene – hand washing, covering that cough, minimizing exposure to others – remains our best defense across the population.”
HealthPartners offers Virtuwell, an online clinic, that often can diagnose and treat symptoms associated with the flu for a “reasonable copay.”
“The online clinic may result in reduced cost and inconvenience for patients,” Newman said, “as well as reducing the number of patients in the emergency departments and clinics facing high patient volumes and crowding.”
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