Why the flu has spread to such an epidemic level this year and how to protect yourself

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) Right now, so many people are sick with the flu, it’s considered an epidemic across the country. That includes here in Utah. Dr. Mark Hiatt, with Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Utah, and the Red Cross, joined Brian Carlson, to explain why it’s so bad this year, and how you can avoid getting sick.

Dr. Hiatt says usually the flu season peaks in January and February (It may continue through May). The reason this season is looking like it will be severe for a combination of reasons is such:

  • The virus is strong this year
  •  Its vaccine is not as effective
  • There’s a shortage of IV bags of saline (to rehydrate patients hospitalized for the flu)

 IV bags of saline have been in short supply since 2014, but even more so since Hurricane Maria damaged the country’s biggest supplier in Puerto Rico last fall. 
In the meantime, in hospitals, if patients can drink normally, they’re being given fluids by mouth instead of intravenously. Dr. Hiatt says to not be taken by surprise when you see Gatorade by a hospital bed.

For more information on the flu, and preventative measures, visit RedCross.org.

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