Local hospitals are preparing for a possible outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus.
While this flu strain may not pose a threat to everyone, it’s a definite danger for some.
“Well the flu thing is definitely here, it's definitely going around our community. Houston county right now has a pretty significant outbreak.”
Dr. Mark Shertzer with Southeast Alabama Medical Center says the H1N1 virus is currently running it's course through Houston county.
The number of cases is on the rise.
“A couple weeks ago they were seeing 5 to 10 people a day, 2 weeks ago 10-20 people a day, now we're up to seeing 50 people a day,” says Dr. Shertzer.
Health officials say there are so many people coming through, they're no longer sending suspected cases to the state lab for testing.
“Primarily because it's not time for the regular flu season that most individuals with the flu-like symptoms have the h1n1 virus,” says Bruce McNeal, the Director of Safety and Pre-Hospital Services at the Med Center.
Doctors say high-risk patients should seek medical attention if they have flu-like symptoms.
Pregnant women, the elderly, and those with serious pre-existing medical conditions and weakened immune systems are more likely to suffer from the effects of the virus.
But healthy individuals with flu symptoms should just stay put and rest up.
“The key is staying at home when you're sick if you stay at home this will lessen the transmission,” says Darla Silavent, the Director of Infections Control at Flowers Hospital.
“Most of these people do not need to come to the ER. Really the only people that need to be at the ER are those people who are high risk,” says Dr. Shertzer.
Another concern; possible mutation with another flu strain.
“There is that fear that if enough people get it, the swine flu, and it comes into contact with the so-called bird flu there is a concern we'll get a much more virulent flu out of this thing, but that has not happened yet,” adds Dr. Shertzer.
Doctors say in terms of the flu, the H1N1 strain is not any worse than any other strain.
However, the fact that so many people are coming down with the virus and because it's new is cause for concern..
Local doctors expect to receive the h1n1 vaccine in mid to late October.
But one doctor told news 4 today, the virus may run it's course in our area before the vaccine arrives.