Flu Strikes Early: Record Number Of Cases Reported In Metro Detroit

ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – Flu season usually peaks in January and February — but it appears to be at full strength right now here in Michigan.

The Washtenaw County Health Department reported increases of influenza over the past week, and Beaumont Health System is now treating record numbers of people with the flu.

In response, visitor restrictions are now in place at Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe and Troy. People with flu‐like symptoms (including fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills and fatigue) and children under 13 years of age may not visit patients in the hospital.

“We are experiencing four times the number of cases in our community than is typical for mid-December,” said Jeffrey Band, M.D., Beaumont Health System chairman, Epidemiology. “One of the reasons for the marked uptick in cases is because it has been relatively quiet over the past several years. Every few years we experience a marked upsurge.”

Another reason for the spike, says Beaumont infectious disease expert Matthew Sims: The flu strain that experts predicted and developed the vaccine for has changed.

But, he said, it’s still a good idea to get a flu shot.

“It’s matching about 50 percent of the strains that are circulating,” Sims said. “Even though you don’t have an absolute match, while you might get the flu, it will make the symptoms a lot lower.”

To help the community, Beaumont Hospital just launched a Flu Hotline. The toll-fee, 24-hour center is staffed by nurses who can answer questions and concerns regarding the flu such as symptoms, treatments and if you should see a doctor.  The number to call is 888-375-4161.

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The CDC recommends anyone over 6 months old get vaccinated —and it’s not too late to get your shot for this season. For more information, including where to get the vaccine, visit this link.

More from Dr. Deanna Lites
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