Doctors say they're treating one of worst flu seasons in years - KCTV5

Doctors say they're treating one of worst flu seasons in years

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Coughing into your arm, using hand sanitizer and spraying disinfectant just isn't enough. Emergency rooms around town say the flu is winning.

Dr. Michelle Haines, medical director of the cardiovascular ICU at St. Luke's Hospital, is treating one of the worst flu seasons in years. There were 128 flu cases at St. Luke's alone.

"Last season we didn't see this. And again this has been in the last four weeks we've seen a rash of patients come in," Haines said.

She's used an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, device five times in the last month. It's an artificial lung that helps the sickest patients.

All five patients were suffering from flu-related complications.

"But with this H1N1 strain we've seen, it's primarily affected young and middle-aged adults that were otherwise healthy," Haines said.

People can sanitize all they want but, at the end of the day, doctors say the flu vaccine is the most effective way from preventing the flu.

"The influenza shot or the nasal influenza immunization is the most reliable and safest way to prevent influenza," said Dr. Lee Norman, the chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Hospital.

The emergency room at the University of Kansas Hospital is filled. They've treated 287 flu cases this season.

Norman said this year's spike is an indication that not enough people are getting vaccinated.

"It's bad. The flu is bad. We've had deaths from influenza in this region, in our hospital, in other hospitals," he said. "To get to herd (community) immunity takes about 75, 80, 90 percent immunization rate in the population and we're talking everybody from six months of age to 100 years old. That's a vast number of people. I just think people are getting complacent about it."

It's not too late for immunization. Doctors encourage anyone who hasn't gotten the shot to do so.

The H1N1 strain is ailing the young healthy adults. Two have died this flu season at the University of Kansas Hospital.

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