More Cases of the Flu In Bay County Than Expected

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The Centers for Disease Control are reporting higher than expected numbers of the flu in the panhandle.

Bay County emergency rooms have been consistent with that assessment staying packed with people who have flu like symptoms.

Flu season is typically at its worst in January and February, but Gulf Coast Medical Center doctors say the illness started spreading in December.

"This is happening much earlier this year and much higher intensity," said Dr. Debra Williams.

The numbers are surprising.

"During the month of December, we tested 695 patients for the flu. 137 were positive for Flu A and 29 were positive for Influenza B,” said Williams.

She says the average ages of those with flu like symptoms are different than what doctors typically see.

"We are seeing this more in children, adolescents, and teenagers than we have in the past."

One possible reason is that teenagers and younger adults are less likely to get a flu shot.

There's still time to get one, but it takes about two weeks to take effect.

If you're sick, doctors suggest taking the time to stay home and rest!

"Otherwise, there's that chance for relapse and they'll be out of activities for longer than they would if they'd have just stayed at home and taken care of themselves.”

Dr. Williams predicts a continuation of the higher numbers over the next few months.

Across town, Bay Medical Center officials say they're diagnosing 20 to 30 flu cases each day, many are H1N1 or swine flu.

Doctors from BMC were so busy on Monday, none of them had time to stop for an interview.