Has flu season arrived in Miss-Lou?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

The flu has hit the Miss-Lou with a vengeance, say state and local health officials. Area hospitals are full of patients, and crowded conditions are not likely to let up anytime soon, say hospital administrators.

&uot;Since yesterday, we’ve had an influx of admissions,&uot;&160;said David Cronic, assistant administrator for Natchez Regional&160;Medical Center. &uot;We’re full throughout the hospital.&uot;

At Natchez Community Hospital, conditions are much the same.

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&uot;We’re coordinating with Natchez Regional to ship patients as needed,&uot; said Ray Bane, executive director. &uot;We’re seeing a lot of upper respiratory symptoms and pneumonia. We’re full. The last I&160;heard, Alexandria, Jackson and Monroe are full.&uot;

Bane said the influx of patients at Community started on Monday, with 57 admissions over a three-day period.

&uot;March is normally when we see the high admissions,&uot; Bane said. The unusually high census coupled with Y2K could add up to a hard weekend for area healthcare workers.

Vernon Stevens, administrator at Riverland Medical Center in Ferriday, La., said his hospital is also full.

&uot;We have two ICU&160;beds left,&uot; he said. &uot;We may have some doctors come through on rounds and discharge a couple of patients tonight, but those beds will be filled again through the ER before the night is over.&uot;

As of Thursday afternoon, NRMC had 81 inpatients, Natchez Community had 84 and Riverland Medical Center had 45.

This is a strong start to the flu season, said Bruce Brackin, deputy state epidemiologist with the Mississippi State Department of Health. Brackin said influenza cultures had been confirmed last week in Starkville, Jackson and on the Coast.

&uot;Now that people have been visiting their relatives over the holidays, they’ve been spreading the bug around,&uot; he said.

The good news is that all the strains of flu identified so far have been contained by the flu vaccine distributed earlier this year, Brackin said. The bad news is that anyone who hasn’t received the flu shot has probably waited too late to get it.

&uot;There are effective treatments,&uot; he said, but they depend on the patient seeing their doctor within the first 12 to 24 hours of flu onset.

The following conditions could signal influenza:

extremely abrupt onset,

deep, achy pains in the joints,

fever, usually 100 degrees or higher, and

a deep cough.