"Massive increase" in flu cases across WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The Catholic Health hospital system is seeing a sharp rise in cases of the flu over the past few weeks. So much so, the healthcare provider has introduced temporary restrictions against any hospital visitors under the age of 14. Anyone who may be experiencing flu-like symptoms is also asked to avoid visiting patients at Catholic Health hospitals.

"Over the past couple of weeks we've seen a massive increase in the number of patients presenting, to our emergency departments in particular, with the classic symptoms of influenza," Dr. Kevin Shiley explained. He is the physician director of infection prevention and control for Catholic Health.

The restriction on visitors, he explained, is to keep patients as safe and healthy as possible. Visitors, especially young children, can unknowingly spread the influenza virus. For people with medical conditions keeping them in a hospital, getting the flu can sometimes lead to serious complications.

"A simple case of flu might be something we can get through in the outpatient world," Dr. Shiley said. "For our patients here in the hospital with multiple medical problems already, that could even be a deadly event."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 states, including New York, are currently experiencing "widespread influenza activity".

Dr. Shiley recommends getting the flu vaccine if you haven't already.

"The vaccine is not perfect but it definitely reduces the risk of developing influenza in a lot of patients," he explained. "Even if patients do develop flu it seems to reduce the likelihood that they're going to have a complication."

Some common symptoms of the flu include pain or aches on the body, weakness or fatigue, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose or a high fever.

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