Florida Department of Health Indian River County put out an emergency alert to the community about the flu after seeing three times as many cases in the county as this time last year.
“We want them to be aware of the spike," said Rose Parker, nursing director for Florida Department of Health Indian River.
At the two hospitals in Indian River County, 5.4 percent of the ER visits last week were due to the flu. The same week the year before, 1.6 percent of patients in the ER had it.
The main purpose of the emergency alert, which was sent out through the county's emergency management office, was to inform people that they can take steps to protect themselves, including getting the flu shot and washing hands frequently.
"It’s just an effective method of getting that out there to the most people in the quickest amount of time," Parker said.
The memo sent to emergency management to go out to the public read:
The Florida Department of Health in Indian River is reporting a sharp increase in flu activity in our community.
Common symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. Young children, older people and those with certain health conditions are at especially high risk for serious complications.
Here are some tips to help keep your family safe and healthy:
- Everyone more than 6 months of age should get a flu shot. The vaccine is available, and it is not too late.
- Wash your hands frequently, and cover your cough.
- Anyone who is sick should stay home until 24 hours after fever is gone – don’t spread the flu virus to others.
- If you or your child is sick with flu-like illness, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible and follow their guidance on treatment.
“Peak flu season for Florida is generally January through March, so we’re really just getting into it," Parker said. "I think we have more ahead of us than we have behind us."