Deadly flu season stretches hospital resources - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Deadly flu season stretches hospital resources

Posted: Updated:

As the flu continues to tighten its grip across the country, hospitals are feeling the stretch when it comes to resources. 

In a newly released report, the Iowa Department of Health says 126 people have died from the flu this season. 

Physicians are calling it an epidemic, dealing with the added burden of shortages of flu swabs and IV bags. 

"I think this is the worst flu season in the last decade," said Medical Director of Hospitalists at Allen Hospital Dr. Pradeep Ramesh. "The other thing that makes it severe is they're saying the efficacy of the flu vaccine is between 10 and 20 or 10 and 30 percent."

At Allen hospital in Waterloo, they're not seeing any shortage of flu swabs nor flu screen kits, but it is on their radar. Dr. Ramesh says their more concerned about the shortage of IV bags. 

"We've had some major shortages of IV fluids," said Dr. Ramesh. "On a daily basis the pharmacy department keeps us updated, but we haven't had any problems because of the IV shortage."

Bags are not only in short supply at Allen hospital, but across the nation after Hurricane Maria cut power to a manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico. 

Dr. Ramesh says they've been using fewer IV bags.

"So if they can drink on their own, and stay hydrated, then they might not need any IV fluids," said Dr. Ramesh. "It's the people who are very lethargic who come in with an almost shock-like symptom-blood pressures are really low. Elderly people who are confused and may not drink enough. Those are the ones who really need a lot of IV fluids."

Dr. Ramesh says the peak flu seasons runs through February and may even go into March. Hes stresses it's not too late to get a flu shot. He says the shot might not prevent the flu completely, but it does minimize the symptoms that come with it.

"My son got the flu shot and he still got influenza twice actually this year," said Dr. Ramesh. "He got influenza b and then influenza a. But I think it is because of the flu shot that he hasn't gotten that sick."

The Center for Disease Control put out a new report Friday, which shows 84 children have died with the flu. Cases remain widespread in every state except for Oregon and Hawaii. 

Powered by Frankly