Influenza and norovirus outbreaks pack hospital ERs
This year’s influenza season is delivering a nationwide blow to all age ranges, with seniors and children at highest risk. With unfortunate timing, the country is seeing a recent explosion in cases of norovirus and the highest numbers for whooping cough since the 1950s.
Most of the country is reporting widespread influenza outbreaks, with the only respite being along the west coast—for now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly surveillance maps.
Hospital emergency rooms are straining under the influx of sick people, with many hospitals having to turn ambulances away due to overcrowding. Seniors are also seeing record cases: Flu hospitalizations of those over age 65 are more than double last year’s tally for this point in the season, reports the Boston Globe.
Those who have had the flu shot are better protected, but still may fall victim to this year’s strong viral strains. And of course, there’s no vaccine to stave off norovirus, the CDC notes.
The city of Boston declared a rare health emergency Wednesday as its hospital ERs overflowed with sick patients. Marian Manor, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in South Boston, is even asking residents’ families to stay away for now. “What we’re telling people is that we’re strongly discouraging visitors at this time,” Novyl Igo, assistant administrator of Marian Manor, told the Boston Globe. “If family members really want to visit, we can make accommodations, but we’re asking if they had a flu shot.”
The CDC has issued flu guidelines for seniors and several other at-risk groups.
Pamela Tabar was editor-in-chief of I Advance Senior Care from 2013-2018. She has worked as a writer and editor for healthcare business media since 1998, including as News Editor of Healthcare Informatics. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Kent State University and a master’s degree in English from the University of York, England.
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