United Kingdom

Worst flu season in decades overcrowded emergency rooms

PHILADELPHIA (UKTN) — The worst flu season in a decade continues with even more people getting sick. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that 13 million Americans have been infected with the flu since October.

Other respiratory diseases are also climbing, the CDC said.

Hospitals are filling up and waiting times in the emergency room are hours. The “triple epidemic” of flu, RSV and COVID-19 is on the rise, and health officials say the Christmas season could bring a wave of even more illnesses.

“We see a lot of patients coming in with flu-like illnesses,” said Dr. Thomas Brabson, the president of emergency services for AtlantiCare.

Hospitals are overrun with sick people.

The CDC map shows that flu cases in New Jersey are among the highest in the country.

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With more than 44,000 lab-confirmed cases since October, doctors say the true numbers are much higher because most people don’t get tested.

“People are getting out a lot more,” Brabson said, “and I think people are less wary.”

There is also a growing number of children being hospitalized with the respiratory disease RSV.

“This past year was unlike any other year in the past,” said Dr. Laura Pusley.

RSV is on the rise along with the flu and COVID-19 infections.

The CDC COVID-19 community transmission map is red again around the tri-state region, meaning the virus is spreading widely.

In the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases is up 50% in New Jersey, 39% in Pennsylvania and 65% in Delaware.

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“There are some serious cases,” Brabson said. “Usually the severe cases are in people with pre-existing, underlying illnesses.”

Doctors say all three viral infections sweeping the country can be slowed down by wearing a mask and being up to date on vaccinations.

But so far, less than 13% of Americans have received their updated COVID-19 boosters.

“It tells me people aren’t getting the message,” said Dr. Douglas Chiriboga.

Doctors say people should only go to emergency rooms for trouble breathing and other serious conditions as overcrowding becomes overwhelming in some places.

If it’s just fever and congestion, it’s better to call your doctor and stay home.

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