Flu On the Rise in the Basin

By: Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

You've probably noticed a lot of people out there are getting sick and maybe you're one of them.

This winter flu season is kicking off early in the Basin. The season usually starts in February but local doctors and hospitals say the flu is already on the rise.

"This weekend the flu showed up and now we have a flu epidemic in Odessa/Midland." Dr. Richard Bartlett the ER director of Basin Healthcare says about 70 percent of their cases on Tuesday were the flu.

While that hospital is seeing a large jump in cases others like Midland Memorial and Medical Center Hospitals say they don't think it's that bad.

"Flu season is starting off in a totally expected manner," MCH Infection Control Coordinator Rebecca Johnson, said. "We started seeing more positive tests for flu A about two weeks ago. We had the highest levels of the flu last week."

They say most cases are the typical influenza A strain. Some flu symptoms include runny nose, fever, cough, body aches and in extreme cases diarrhea and vomiting and health professionals stay there's still time to avoid it.

To keep germs away doctors say you should wash your hands with soap and water and if you don't have that, use antibacterial hand sanitizer.

"If someone did not get the flu shot yet, better go get the flu shot," Dr. Bartlett said. "This is your last chance to get some protection before you're exposed."

They're especially urging small children, the elderly and expectant mothers to get the shot.

"We are able to prevent not only the expectant mother from being very sick, but also the infant will also have fewer cases of influenza the first six months of life," Johnson said. "So you prevent two cases with one shot."

They hope vaccinations, basic hygiene and early doctors visits will keep the flu in check this year.