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Flu hospitalizations at MUSC Health drop, but not rate of people coming to ER with flu symptoms

Don’t let down your guard just yet, doctors say

protective masks
Due to the influx of flu cases, MUSC Health is temporarily restricting visitors to people at least 18 years old. All visitors go through a flu screening.
Helen Adams | | February 13, 2018

The number of people hospitalized with the flu at MUSC Health has gone down over the last few weeks, according to Chief Quality Officer Danielle Scheurer.

“Three weeks ago, we had 27 hospitalizations. Two weeks ago, we had 15, and this past week, 11. So that, I think, is hopeful,” Scheurer said. “At least we are not seeing as many super sick people.”

But doctors at MUSC Health and MUSC Children’s Health are still seeing plenty of people who feel rotten — just not sick enough to need to stay in the hospital. “The number of positive flu tests here for the past three weeks was 405, 487 and 402,” Scheurer said.

The up and down data show the flu is not letting up on the Lowcountry just yet. In fact, MUSC Children’s Health emergency medicine specialist Keith Borg said don’t expect flu season to end any time soon. “We have seen absolutely tons of patients with those complaints coming into the emergency department. Maybe a little more flu A than flu B. And we also see a lot of other viral illnesses.”

The parents of his young patients are more worried than in the past, Borg said, after an uptick in news reports about people dying from the flu. “They’re understandably concerned about their children.”

This flu season has been rough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported seeing the highest percentage of people with influenza-like illness since the 2009 pandemic.

But while at least one child has died from the flu in South Carolina this season, along with several adults, Borg said most people recover. “It’s influenza. It’s the stuff your grandma told you about. You’re going to feel bad, you should stay home, cover your mouth, wash your hands, hot soup, hot tea, Tylenol, ibuprofen, and it’s going to last a week to 10 days.”

He encourages people to get vaccinated. “It may mitigate some of the symptoms.”

Flu symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Emily Sigmon, urgent care coordinator at the MUSC Health Center for Telehealth, said a growing number of people are using e-visits to get flu treatment. “From February 1 to February 11, there have been 136 e-visits, with 71 of these being flu-related visits.”

E-visits are electronic visits that involve going through the online patient navigation system called My Chart, allowing people who aren’t sick enough to be in the hospital to see a doctor without leaving home.

Flu season leads to spike in e-visits (MUSC News, Jan. 19, 2018)

Flu surge leads to special clinic (MUSC News, Jan. 12, 2018) 

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