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Flu, flu-like illnesses, are on the increase

By Staff | Jan 15, 2011

In the past two months, Lee Memorial Health System has seen an increase in the number of patients who are experiencing flu symptoms.
Steve Streed, system director of Infection Control, said normally they see between 15-20 cases a day throughout Lee Memorial Health System, but over the past two months that number has grown to 40 to 60 cases a day.
The symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and joint aches, headaches and runny nose.
Avra Bowers, medical director of Lee Physician Group, Division of Primary Care said during the winter months, individuals spend more time indoors or traveling, which puts them in closer contact with others and a greater chance of spreading germs.
She explained that they are seeing an increased number of flu or flu-like symptoms at the Lee Convenient Care Page Field location in Fort Myers.
“If you are sick and have a fever of 100.4 you shouldn’t be going to work and spreading it to everyone else,” she said. “You should stay home and take care of yourself.”
She explained that anyone who has a fever for 48 hours should get checked out at one of the Lee Convenient Care locations or by their physician.
If individuals are experiencing some of the symptoms they should isolate themselves from contact with others, Streed explained adding that “caution and care” should be taken so the symptoms are not being exposed to family members.
Streed said if an individual catches one of the flu or flu like illnesses they will be infectious during the early part of their disease, along with a day or so afterwards. He explained that the cough can still be a virus after all the other symptoms go away.
Streed stressed that it is not too late to receive a flu shot as a prevention of getting the flu this season. He said there are enough drug stores that are offering the flu shot for under $30, which is “a good deal.”
He explained that the inoculation will last through the flu season, but individuals will have to get another shot next season because the two to three predominant viruses that circulate each year may change.
“The vaccine that you got this year may not be effective against the new viruses next year,” Streed said.
He explained that the vaccination prevents an individual from getting the illness and incubating the infection before they isolate themselves.
“The flu vaccine prevents that transmission before you get sick,” Streed said.
The idea of vaccinations is to have a large number of individuals receive the flu shot because it helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated.
Streed encourages anyone with questions to to call their physician.
Bowers explained that everyone should be practicing good hygiene by sneezing into their arm, so germs do not spread, along with practicing good hand washing.
Use warm water when washing your hands under clean water and rub your hands together for 15 to 20 seconds to ensure your hands are clean. Dry your hands with a paper towel and then use that paper towel to turn off the facet. When soap is not available use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to decrease the number of germs.
When grocery shopping, Bowers said individuals should wipe their carts down to decrease the risk of getting sick.
There are three Lee Convenient Care locations in Lee County for individuals to go to if they need to seek medical advice.
The Lee Convenient Care center located at 1682 NE Pine Island Road is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, along with the Page Field location in Fort Myers at 4771 S. Cleveland Ave. The last office located at 13279 N. Cleveland Ave. is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bowers said the Page Field location typically sees more than 100 patients on Saturday and Sunday and the Pine Island location can see up to 70 people on Saturday and 50 on Sunday.
“The weekends are busy,” she said.
Now that Lee County is in season, individuals can spend up to two hours from the time they sign in at Lee Convenient Care until they leave. Out of season the majority of people are seen in an hour.