Area hospitals seeing record number of flu cases

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Dr. Bryan Durham has worked in the emergency department at New Hanover Regional Medical Center for 20 years, and he has never seen a flu season like this one.

"I've personally never seen numbers like this before," said Durham.

With a record number of flu cases in a season as deadly as this one, how are you to know when illness warrants a trip to the emergency room?

Durham says the hospital will never tell you not to visit the ER, but certain signs should not be ignored.

Dehydration, confusion, and difficulty breathing are all signs of severe illness that should be taken seriously. Durham also said children under 2, the elderly population, women who are pregnant, or those with serious health problems are at a higher risk.

Even the region's smallest hospitals are seeing big flu numbers.

In January alone, Dosher Memorial Hospital in Southport reported nearly 100 patients visiting the ER complaining of flu symptoms. Forty-seven tested positive for the flu.

"That's a large number for a hospital of our size," said hospital spokesperson James Goss.

With so many people testing positive for the flu, the phones at King's Pharmacy in Wilmington have been ringing off the hook.

"It's been a tremendous amount of flu cases that have come through and it's really hard to keep up actually," said pharmacist Buck Martin.

Despite the huge demand for Tamiflu across the country, King's has been able to keep it in stock.

"It's been tough, but we've been fortunate enough to actually have some secondary suppliers that have been able to supply us with the Tamiflu," Martin said.

In a typical flu season, Martin says he would fill around four to five scripts for Tamiflu per week.

This year, he has filled 10 to 15 scripts per day.

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