Clinic sees sudden spike in flu cases

Clinic sees sudden spike in flu cases

PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This year's flu season in Hawaii has been a relatively quiet one so far. But there are indications that it's about to change.

One indicator came up in the last three days at the US Med Urgent Care clinic in Pearl City, where doctors had seen just a few cases of the flu.

"We got about two or three a week in December," said Dr. Brandon Shirai, the clinic's medical director. "It kinda topped out at five a week in late December.

The clinic was closed on Jan. 1 for the New Year's Day holiday. But when it reopened the following day, things got busy.

"The first two days of January we got about 15, and then just yesterday (Saturday) we got ten new cases of flu.

Even the clinic's CEO wasn't immune. Donna Schmidt said her son was experiencing flu symptoms Saturday, "So we took him to the center to be tested and treated and his test came back positive." By Sunday, Schmidt herself apparently came down with the flu.

The spike of 25 cases in just three days comes as the flu begins to spread in other states. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there were just ten states with widespread flu cases a few weeks ago. New figures released Friday showed the flu is now widespread in 25 states. Hawaii isn't listed as one of those states, at least not yet.

Dr. Shirai said he wasn't completely surprised by the outbreak, since the peak of the flu season usually comes in January and February.

Health officials say it's not too late to get a flu shot, which is widely available. But other than that, there's one precaution you can take to lower your chances of getting the flu, according to Shirai.

"Washing your hands," he said. "That's universal. Always washing your hands before you go out. Before you eat, wash your hands. When you get home, you wash your hands."

Hawaii public schools are also returning to session after the Christmas and New Year's holiday break. If your child is sick with the flu, "Keep them at home, yes," said Shirai. "Because when you have the flu, you're infectious -- for adults now -- the CDC says for seven days. Kids, they actually stay infectious for longer, up to about ten days."

Shirai said if you get flu symptoms, you should get treatment within 48 hours. "Come in the first 48 hours, we can actually give you something medication wise, that will decrease the duration and the severity of the symptoms," he said.

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