Flu season off to rapid start, health officials say

Flu season off to rapid start, health officials say

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Southern Arizona is eight weeks into the flu season and the virus is spreading quickly.

The Arizona Department of Health keeps track of flu cases and so far this year there have been more than 670 confirmed cases. With 94 of those reported in Pima County.

In fear that it could be a more active flu season than normal, Banner Health is taking extra precautions to protect its patients. People walking into the hospitals are greeted with a sign pointing at restrictions being enforced.

  • Do not visit the hospital if you have a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Please, no visitors under the age of 13.
  • Siblings, who do not have cold and flu symptoms, may visit a new baby on the Obstetrics unit or Pediatric unit.   Your child may be screened for illness by staff before being allowed to visit.
  • Children 12 and under must be supervised by an adult at all times in public waiting areas and cafeterias.
  • Please wash or sanitize your hands frequently while at the hospital.

Natalie Olendorf is a General Nurse Practitioner for TMC-One. She told Tucson News Now that she is starting to see the season pick up. Just this week, she's treated about 2 to 3 patients per day who have flu-like symptoms. That is why is strongly encouraging people to get their flu shot.

"This week specifically, I've seen a lot of flu like illnesses, probably 2 to 3 a day and typically I see about 15 to 20 patients a week so that would be a big percentage," she said.

Corina Yeh said she gets a flu shot every year because she doesn't want to take any chances.

"I just think it's a good precaution to take and then especially since our work is really great and provides a free clinic," she said.

Dr. Olendorf said people should also follow basic suggestions like washing their hands to prevent the flu from spreading.

"If you are sick try to stay home. We really encourage you to wash your hands frequently and when you're coughing try to cover your mouth… all those good hand hygiene things that we try to encourage patients," she said.

Click here to find a flu clinic near you.  https://211arizona.org/flu/

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