Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Holiday cold, flu cases rise over holidays

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

This year's extended Lunar New Year celebrations have also marked a wave of visits by cold and flu patients to emergency rooms.

Taipei's Mackay Hospital estimated that emergency room visits for colds and the flu during the Lunar New Year holdiays this year went up more than 10 percent from the same period last year, even though overall emergency room visits fell.

Although type B influenza cases predominated before the holiday, many elderly patients have also been diagnosed with type A influenza, said Chang Wen-han (張文瀚) of Mackay Hospital's emergency medicine department.

"Her parents did not even realize that she was that sick," Taichung County Councillor Li Li-hua (李麗華) said of a 28--year-old woman surnamed Liao (廖), who is thought to have died of flu-related complications early on Saturday in Dali City's Jen-ai Hospital.

"She was young and thought she could tough it out," said Li, who presided over a traditional posthumous "wedding" of Liao and her boyfriend of eight years.

Although Liao's cause of death has yet to be officially determined, she had been sick with the flu and likely succumbed to complications from her illness, Li said.

Liao has been sick with the flu since before the Lunar New Year, Li said.

The Chinese-language United Daily News reported that despite her family's urgings, the woman delayed seeking medical treatment throughout the holidays until she was found unconscious by her family and rushed to the emergency room.

"If a cold or the flu does not go away on its own in one to three days, a patient should seek medical care, even if he or she is young and in good physical shape," Center for Disease Control Deputy Director Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) said.

"Even more vigilance should be exercised for very young or old patients," Shih said.

Doctors might not be able to do much more than alleviate the misery of cold and flu symptoms as far as treating the disease itself, but medical care can be crucial in ensuring that potentially deadly complications such as encephalitis or respiratory tract infections do not get out of hand, Shih said.

"There is no need to see a doctor for mild colds and the flu, but persistent symptoms such as a high fever for more than three days are a warning sign that medical attention is required," Shih said.

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