Flu spikes, despite the season winding down

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You may have noticed a bunch of people at work or school with the flu. Maybe you have it. Hawaii is seeing more cases of the flu than usual for this time of year. The Department of Health says vaccines are in stock, and it's NOT too late to get one.

Linda – she doesn't want us to use her last name - has bad allergies, but lately, a virus has made her feel even worse. She lists her aches and pains, "The throat, the chest, the head, everything."

At Dr. Jeffrey Kam's office at Straub, they've seen an uptick in the number of patients - from babies to seniors - coming in with flu-like symptoms at this time of year. "I'm seeing everybody!" says Dr. Kam.

"The one that we're concerned about, obviously, is the influenza A, and that's the biggest one that is hitting the schools. I know that, I got some reports from some of the schools, and they have cultured these students, and it is influenza A."

You may think it's too late to get a flu vaccine - here we are in March - but, the health department says it's never too late, and vaccines ARE in stock.

Flu cases commonly spike during winter months when people cough and sneeze and spread germs. On the mainland, they're still seeing widespread flu in 44 states. In Hawaii, it's only bad in certain areas. But experts here say, because of tourists traveling in and out of the state - and from island to island - flu "season" can go on all year long.

And it goes beyond the flu. The health department says it's seen an increase in other respiratory diseases, as well.

State epidemiologist Sarah Park tells us, "We know we tend to lag in that spike activity about a month after the mainland, so we can expect to continue to see potentially, a lot of respiratory disease activity, not just from flu, but from these other respiratory viruses for a bit longer."

This is probably obvious, but it bears repeating: health experts advise you to get vaccinated, wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and stay home if you're sick.

Kam says if symptoms persist for weeks, it's time to pay your doctor a visit. Then, do just what mom always said: get lots of rest.

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