Flu Cases on the rise in Douglas County – KETV Omaha

Douglas County now has two flu-related deaths reported in this flu season. The health department reported both patients were at least 65 years old.Experts said more people are getting sick earlier than usual.Douglas County just set a new weekly record high: 898 confirmed cases last week.Experts can’t explain why Nebraska has more flu cases per capita than any other state or why influenza peaked a month early in the metro.They said they worry the metro may see another spike once students return from winter break.For Paul Baltes of Omaha, testing positive for the flu the week of Christmas was the last thing he wanted.“Just feeling achy, having a headache and a cough,” Baltes recalled his symptoms.Baltes is the communications director at Nebraska Medicine and said he’s always gotten the flu vaccine and been careful not to get others sick, but days later, his 19-year-old son had similar symptoms.“Our household was 50 percent, and who knows why that is, but we’re glad it wasn’t 100 percent because having half the family down over the holidays was un-fun enough,” said Baltes.The flu has hit the Omaha metro fast and furious.The Douglas County Health Department reported 3,301 confirmed cases so far this flu season.Those patients include people of all ages with about 45 percent from five to 24 years old.“We’ve seen a lot of cases, and we do have some patients in the hospital with complications from the flu, and so it’s not anything to trifle with,” said Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.“Even though we’re at the peak of the influenza epidemic right now with a lot of H1N1, it’s possible that we could see different strains of flu come in weeks or even a month or two from now,” said Rupp.For the Baltes family, they’re being careful for New Year’s and the weeks ahead.“We’ve scaled back our plans just a bit because we want to just take it easy,” Baltes said.Experts stress it’s not too late to get the vaccine. They said it’s about 50 percent effective in preventing influenza, but it can make the symptoms less severe and shorter. KETV NewsWatch 7 also talked to Jesse Gabriel, a nurse practitioner at the Urgent Care at 72nd and Cass Streets.Gabriel said a flu test takes just a few minutes and is the best way to diagnose and treat the symptoms. He said many patients are confusing Influenza with viral gastritis, which is commonly called the stomach flu.“Influenza is a respiratory illness, usually presents rapid onset fevers, chills, sore throat and a dry cough, where viral gastritis is usually nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,” Gabriel explained.The latest flu map from the Centers for Disease Control shows Nebraska among the states with the highest level of activity. There’s less activity in Iowa, although the state joins most others in the ‘widespread’ category.

OMAHA, Neb. —

Douglas County now has two flu-related deaths reported in this flu season.

The health department reported both patients were at least 65 years old.

Experts said more people are getting sick earlier than usual.

Douglas County just set a new weekly record high: 898 confirmed cases last week.

Experts can’t explain why Nebraska has more flu cases per capita than any other state or why influenza peaked a month early in the metro.

They said they worry the metro may see another spike once students return from winter break.

For Paul Baltes of Omaha, testing positive for the flu the week of Christmas was the last thing he wanted.

“Just feeling achy, having a headache and a cough,” Baltes recalled his symptoms.

Baltes is the communications director at Nebraska Medicine and said he’s always gotten the flu vaccine and been careful not to get others sick, but days later, his 19-year-old son had similar symptoms.

“Our household was 50 percent, and who knows why that is, but we’re glad it wasn’t 100 percent because having half the family down over the holidays was un-fun enough,” said Baltes.

The flu has hit the Omaha metro fast and furious.

The Douglas County Health Department reported 3,301 confirmed cases so far this flu season.

Those patients include people of all ages with about 45 percent from five to 24 years old.

“We’ve seen a lot of cases, and we do have some patients in the hospital with complications from the flu, and so it’s not anything to trifle with,” said Dr. Mark Rupp, chief of Infectious Diseases Division at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“Even though we’re at the peak of the influenza epidemic right now with a lot of H1N1, it’s possible that we could see different strains of flu come in weeks or even a month or two from now,” said Rupp.

For the Baltes family, they’re being careful for New Year’s and the weeks ahead.

“We’ve scaled back our plans just a bit because we want to just take it easy,” Baltes said.

Experts stress it’s not too late to get the vaccine. They said it’s about 50 percent effective in preventing influenza, but it can make the symptoms less severe and shorter.

KETV NewsWatch 7 also talked to Jesse Gabriel, a nurse practitioner at the Urgent Care at 72nd and Cass Streets.

Gabriel said a flu test takes just a few minutes and is the best way to diagnose and treat the symptoms. He said many patients are confusing Influenza with viral gastritis, which is commonly called the stomach flu.

“Influenza is a respiratory illness, usually presents rapid onset fevers, chills, sore throat and a dry cough, where viral gastritis is usually nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,” Gabriel explained.

The latest flu map from the Centers for Disease Control shows Nebraska among the states with the highest level of activity.

There’s less activity in Iowa, although the state joins most others in the ‘widespread’ category.

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