Flu & Norovirus Patients Filling ER & Clinics - KOAM TV 7

Flu & Norovirus Patients Filling ER & Clinics

Joplin, MO -

Medical facilities are facing a two fisted punch when it comes to patients.
            A dramatic upswing in the number of flu cases and now a stomach bug known as norovirus.
Mercy Hospital emergency department nurse practitioner Judith Russel said, "It
s been quite busy. Usually everyday the ERs full with about fifteen to twenty in the waiting room."
Russell dealt with two patients simultaneously during our visit.

She said, "Most of our patients are coming in with nausea and vomiting, not able to keep anything down. Then they get diarrhea and abdominal cramping and of course with no fluids in they get more cramping and body aches.  Just in general, feel lousy."
But it
s not just the ER thats seeing more patients. Numbers are up of those needing to stay for hospital care.

Mercy infection preventionist Donna Stokes said, "Our census is up from respiratory difficulty breathing um related to influenza or respiratory illness also dehydration from the stomach flu, from GI (gastro intestinal)  illness."

Not everyone needs to come to the emergency department first but one of  key factors is your hydration level.

Russell explained, "The big thing is if you're unable to eat or drink or keep your fever down you probably need to be seen . There are some things you can do at home: Tylenol, Motrin, clear liquids." 

Stokes says everyone's susceptible because norovirus  has a tendency to change every few years.. There's no vaccine. The key is prevention. 
She said, "Norovirus is difficult cause it
s so highly contagious. there are a couple things people can do. Hand hygiene, thats not alcohol based hand sanitizers, thats good  everyday soap and water, lather, rinse and dry on a dry clean towel.  The other things is preventing contamination of food. She said dont cook for others if you are sick and dont eat food someone who is sick prepared.  If they have vomiting and diarrhea , its a very easy to contaminate food and its very easy to ingest  that and you are now exposed."
But nurses say it
s tough to avoid norovirus and the flu. Russell said, "Its not going away anytime soon. It just keeps getting passed around and the weather is not helping us. People having to be inside doesnt help us. People keep passing the illness around so."

Hospital crews say both illnesses spread easily in families. Some other things to protect you include:  besides your hands wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly; Wash contaminated clothing, bedding and towels and disinfect surfaces. Stokes says bleach wipes or diluted bleach both work well.
  Norovirus is common in the winter months but the Centers for Disease Control is warning of a large spike in cases in February and March based on the current outbreak reports.


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