Jan 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) - Cases of the flu continue to ravage nearly every corner of the United States, and the St. Cloud area is no exception.
The Centers for Disease Control report Minnesota as 1 of 47 states with flu levels determined to be "widespread."
St. Cloud Hospital's EmergencyTrauma Center Director Paul Schoenberg says they've seen a spike in their daily average of patients needing treatment and admittance for influenza-like illness, or ILI, since the first week of the outbreak.
"We've seen, on some days, a 25 percent increase in the volume of patients in the emergency room," Schoenberg says. "On an average day, we see 165 patients. With this flu outbrea, we're now seeing closer to 225."
Schoenberg says the Trauma Center is well equipped to handle the influx. He does acknowledge that this has placed strain on the staff, with wait times climbing to around 4.5 hours during the peak times.
Two of the biggest indicators of flu are fever and extreme fatigue. Schoenberg says many people mistake their flu symptoms for colds at first, and don't seek out treatment as quickly as they should in order to contain the spread.
"People dealing with flu-like illness need to stay home as much as possible, wash their hands frequently and drink plenty of fluids to treat symptoms as much as possible," Schoenberg says. "If you've reached the point of severe symtoms, like high fever and shortness of breath, then obviously it's time to come to the emergency room."
Schoenberg says their shortest wait times in the ER are between 3 and 9 am, with most patients arrving during the afternoon and evening hours.
Over 1200 Minnesotans have been hospitalized this season with lab-confirmed influenza, with 27 reported deaths and 138 school outbreaks.