Local hospitals prepare for increase in flu cases

Molly Waldron

Local hospitals prepare for increase in flu cases

CREATED Jan. 9, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Doctors are warning people about an aggressive strain of the flu. So far, close to two dozen children are dead, and hospitals from coast to coast are diverting patients from their emergency rooms to temporary treatment areas.

Some states are expected to hit epidemic levels for the flu. So far, Nevada has been spared from the worst of it. But local hospitals are preparing for more flu cases as the season continues.

The number of flu cases in Southern Nevada is on the rise.

"We're seeing an increase," said Tracy Puckett at UMC. "We haven't seen anything close to an epidemic, and what they're hearing from the east coast -- we're not seeing." 

If our area were to experience an influx of the flu, local hospitals say they are prepared.

"We have a very robust disaster program," said Puckett. "We are the county hospital and we're the burn center, and the trauma center and therefore we're always on alert." 

Doctors say it's important to keep yourself prepared as well by washing your hands and keeping a clean work and living space.

CDC data shows that a person who displays symptoms of the flu has a 70 to 80 percent chance of spreading the virus to others should they cough or sneeze in public.

"What should you do to protect yourself and others? As with any disease, you start to get the symptoms, you'll start to transmit it to others," said Brian Labus, an epidemiologist with the Southern Nevada Health District. "And that's when we recommend people stay home from work or school. You can protect all your friends and family by not exposing them to what you have." 

Another option is the flu vaccine. Officials say vaccinations are still widely available in Southern Nevada.