Influenza Causing High Hospitalization Numbers in Brainerd
Across the state of Minnesota, the flu virus is widespread, and Brainerd is no exception.
“It has been a rough flu season,” said Kari Russell, Infections Prevention Specialist at Essentia Health.
Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd has seen hospitalizations numbers increase dramatically from last year.
“We’ve had over 90 people hospitalized here at our medical center with influenza this year, and at this time last year, we only had five or six and by the end of flu season had just over 50, so we are definitely seeing a lot more hospitalized patients,” Russell said.
This flu season could possibly hit its peak in the near future.
“I think we won’t really know if we’ve hit our peak until we hit that decline, and we haven’t seen that yet, so at this point, it is still prevalent within our community,” said Dr. Becky Holcomb, the lead Emergency Department Physician at Essentia Health.
Until then, it’s important to take prevention steps to stop the spread of a virus that often comes in the form of coughs and sneezes.
“We don’t think about those micro droplets, particles that are traveling and with a sneeze, potentially 10-15 feet depending on the amount of force that you have behind that,” Dr. Holcomb said.
In order to stay healthy, doctors recommend the easiest way is to go to the sink and wash your hands for at least 30 seconds while singing your favorite song or twice through the ABCs. These simple steps can help prevent a large-scale illness.
“It’s feeling like you got hit by a truck – generally we do see high fevers, we’re talking about 102-degree fever, body aches, cough, chills, headache and just feeling miserable,” Dr. Becky Holcomb said.
With a number of contributing factors, health officials say this season’s flu strain is very strong.
“The extremely cold weather that we have had nationwide has also bred for a very strong strain and that’s part of why we are seeing it so bad this year comparative to other years,” Dr. Becky Holcomb said.
And as of now, there is no sign of slowing down.
“We’ve had a steady stream of patients in both the inpatient and outpatient realms basically since the holidays,” Russell said.
In order to stop the spread, Essentia is reminding the public that it’s still not too late to get a flu shot or start practicing good hand hygiene.