Hospitals witness five-week rise in flu patients: CDC

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

Wed, Jan 05, 2011 - Page 1

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said the number of hospital visits for flu symptoms have risen for five consecutive weeks and that 15 new severe cases have come to light in the past week, showing that the country has officially entered the peak flu season.

Cold fronts and wet weather in recent weeks have contributed to the increasing number of people affected by the flu, the CDC said.

Not only has the number of outpatients and emergency visits resulting from flu and flu-like symptoms been on the rise for five straight weeks, hospitals across the country have seen huge increases in the number of emergency visits, CDC Deputy Director-General Lin Ting (林頂) said.

Last week, the number of emergency visits totaled roughly 4,000, a 10 percent increase from the previous week and a 23 percent increase from two weeks ago, Lin said.

In the past week, 15 severe cases of flu have been newly reported, signaling that the public needs to be extra careful, Lin said.

Lin added that in the past month, officials monitoring the flu situation have found that about two in every three people with flu symptoms were affected by the A(H1N1) flu virus.

On the other hand, the cold weather has helped conditions dramatically improve in terms of dengue fever, especially in southern Taiwan where only 16 cases of indigenous dengue fever were confirmed last week, the CDC said.

However, the number of people with symptoms of stomach flu such as diarrhea, vomiting and fever has risen. Last week, 6 percent of all hospital emergency visits involved stomach flu symptoms, most of which affected newborns and children aged up to six, the CDC said.

The CDC said that only about 130,000 publicly funded flu shots are left in the country, so those who plan to receive the vaccine should call clinics near them to check for availability.

The CDC maintained that the vaccines are a form of effective prevention against the various forms of flu viruses and that those who are not vaccinated should wash their hands especially frequently.

Those experiencing discomfort in their respiratory system, such as a sore throat and nasal congestion, should wear face masks or avoid going out, the CDC said.