West Michigan hospitals responding to flu epidemic

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- West Michigan health officials are saying that the number of flu patients being treated at area hospitals is increasing at a rapid rate. This comes as The Centers for Disease Control has declared a flu epidemic.

Several visiting restrictions are in place at area hospitals. For example, Bronson Heath in Kalamazoo isn't allowing anyone to visit a patient in the emergency room unless they are at least 15-years-old, and are limiting visitors to two per patient.

Spectrum Health said that as of last week, they had 115 people admitted in the hospital for the flu, adding that the flu season hasn't peaked yet. Compare that number to just 36 during the peak of the season last year.

The Centers for Disease Control said that the flu is most prominent between December and February, adding that the virus is constantly changing, which makes it harder to fight off.

Over 800 people have been diagnosed with the flu in Kent County. Another 800 people have been diagnosed in Kalamazoo County.

"No two years are the same with influenza. We a different combination of strains and subtypes of influenza every year. We know that one of the strains of influenza this year has drifted a little bit. So, it's genetics are a little bit different, meaning that more people are susceptible to that," said Adam London with the Kent County Health Department.

Spectrum Health is urging people to not ignore their symptoms, and to try to see a doctor within the first 48 hours for treatment.

It's also not too late to get that flu shot, but keep in mind it will take about two weeks to become effective.



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