Doctors see spike in flu cases across Region 8

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Many are bedridden across the area, suffering from flu-like symptoms.

The influenza virus is reportedly going around Northeast Arkansas, as local doctors have seen a spike in the number of patients suffering from the flu recently.

The spike comes off the heels of one of the slowest starts to the flu season in nearly 25 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"We are in the high point of flu season right now," Dr. Traci Buxton said.

Buxton and the staff at First Care Clinic off Stadium Blvd. in Jonesboro usually see flu season end by April, but, during the past few weeks, the exam rooms have been full of people suffering from the flu.

"We've been incredibly busy," Buxton said. "I know, over the last three days, we've been seeing about 20 cases of influenza a day here, just this clinic alone."

Buxton cannot explain what caused this sudden spike. The clinic treated its first positive flu case back in October and has subsequently seen about two to three a week until mid-February.

"I've looked on the CDC Web site. They don't really have any explanations either," she noted. "They think we're having just an average incidence of influenza in Arkansas, but locally we seem to be having a bigger outbreak than usual."

Buxton says the outbreak has come later than normal too, but the clinic has been handle to higher volume of patients well. The staff has even fitted some with masks if they are suffering from symptoms beyond a common cold.

"You do feel like you've been literally hit by a truck," Buxton explained about the symptoms of the flu. "Every bone and joint in your body aches. You have a fever of 102, 103 (degrees), cough, runny nose, sometimes nausea and vomiting. You feel really bad when you have the true flu."

Buxton says these symptoms can subside by taking it easy or using certain medications, but her best advice is for people to get the vaccine to fend off the flu.

"It takes two weeks for the shot to protect you," Buxton said. "But, even if you get exposed to the flu during that time, it will decrease your symptoms, and you're not going to spread the flu to somebody else."

Buxton says, if diagnosed with the flu, take care of yourself first and foremost. She also advises people to seek medical attention if their symptoms get worse.

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.