COOS BAY — Over the past couple of weeks the state of Oregon has seen a wave of folks coming down with severe cases of the flu.
Recent flu outbreaks have plagued central Oregon, with the Bend Bulletin reporting that flu cases have pushed hospitals to capacity. The 349 beds in Bend, Redmond, Madras and Prineville hospitals are occupied.
The flu is a current concern to all medical facilities on the South Coast of Oregon. Although unable to provide any flu season statistics, Bay Area Hospital has implemented a mask policy for anyone interacting with patients that hasn’t received the flu vaccination.
Coos Health and Wellness was unable to make a comment on our local flu season climate, because they are in the middle of moving into its new building.
North Bend Medical Center has seen an increase in flu related traffic. One thing that North Bend Medical Center Family Nurse Practitioner Ashley Weber noticed was that the flu this year has been so severe that secondary illnesses caused by the flu are also on the rise.
“We’re seeing a lot of secondary infections from the flu. The flu can lower the immune system and commonly cause, especially in those that are already immune compromised, can cause people to develop pneumonia, ear infections, and sinus infections. I saw an adult with an ear infection today and she previously had the flu, it’s pretty rare for adults to have ear infections,” Weber said.
Weber sees between 20 and 40 patients a day and said that around one in five of those patients is coming in either because they have the flu or because they have a secondary illness caused by the flu.
“I see a lot of pneumonia that started out as the flu… It’s really bad this year. Healthy people seem to be getting sick longer,” Weber said.
Updated Friday Jan. 12 to reflect the week of Dec. 31 to Jan.6, Oregon’s Weekly Surveillance Report for Influenza and Respiratory Viruses reported that 32.8 percent of patients tested for influenza came back positive. It was also reported that for that first week of the year 153 people were hospitalized for influenza associated reasons.
Of the 153 hospitalizations documented in the weekly surveillance report cases came from Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. The state’s most up to date figure shows that 712 cases of the flu in Oregon reported this season. Eighty-one percent of cases are reported to be flu A, with the remaining 19 percent reported as flu B.
Oregon Health and Science University spokesperson Amanda Gibbs said, “The OHSU emergency department has seen an uptick in cases of flu-like symptoms over the past few weeks. Exact case data is not yet available, though approximately 5-10 cases are evaluated daily.”
Most flu vaccines are quadrivalent, containing 4 different dead strains of the disease.
The quadrivalent vaccine covers four viruses, this season's covers a Michigan strain, a Hong Kong strain, a Brisbane strain and a Phuket strain.
Weber said that it seems this year that she’s seen a lot of people who have gotten flu shots that are still getting sick.
“They make a really good guess based on evidence when making the vaccine to stop people from getting next year’s flu…Some years the scientists guess better than others,” Weber said.
It’s still recommended by the CDC that everyone get a flu shot. Although getting the vaccine doesn’t’ guarantee you won’t get the flu, those who do get vaccinated experience more mild symptoms.