Flu outbreak 2013: Arizona hospitals seeing many patients with flu symptoms

PHOENIX - Arizona has become one of the states where the deadly flu outbreak is widespread.

Along with Montana and South Dakota there are now 44 states where the flu is spreading like wildfire.

It's being called the worst outbreak in 10 years, and the number of cases in Arizona has grown to 1,137.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 300 new cases were reported last week with the most in Maricopa County.

Valley hospitals are starting to notice a difference, too.

The ER at Banner Baywood Medical Center has seen double the amount of patients with the flu this week compared to last.

ER Nursing Manager Ashley Bergeron said on Wednesday there were 75 patients in the waiting room at one time.

She said they try to get folks through as quickly as possible and the patients most at risk wait the least.

Doctors at the East Valley Children's Center have also seen a spike in appointments.

Dr. David Curran said worried parents are bringing their sick children in have doctors determine if they have the flu.

Curran said even doctors in his office have taken steps to avoid getting sick with the flu.

"The number one thing that our staff does is get immunized against influenza. It's one of our office policies. And if for some reason somebody can't they wear a mask, particularly if they're sick or even during the flu season. I think one of the ways we keep our patients healthy too is we have specifically a separate rear entrance for anybody that has flu symptoms or think they've been exposed to the flu so that we're not exposing people in the waiting room," said Curran.

Bergeron said you will know quickly if you have the flu rather than just a cold because the symptoms come on hard and fast.

She said you'll notice soreness all over your body, coughing, a sore throat and fever.

If you have these symptoms, Bergeron said to see your normal provider within 48 hours, not the ER.

If you're an at-risk patient, for example an elderly person or child, you need to go to the ER or if you have the following symptoms:

--More than 24 hours of vomiting

--A temperature of 100.4 or above

--Coughing with a sore throat

--Shortness of breath

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