FLU: “Nasty” Strain Knocks Out S. California, Proves to Be Real Y2K Bug
Worries about computer viruses may be dominating the national headlines, but a nasty strain of a real virus -- the flu -- is making its mark in Southern California. Hospitals throughout the region are reporting "scores" of patients with flu-like symptoms, and the flood of cases has forced some facilities to temporarily close their ERs (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/19). Hospitals from Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, San Diego and the High Desert reported a high volume of patients with flu-like symptoms, upper respiratory ailments and pneumonia on Saturday. Meanwhile, hospitals in Sacramento and San Francisco are not seeing an unusually high number of flu cases, according to nurses. The "crush" of patients with the flu forced several hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange counties to close their emergency rooms temporarily and divert patients to other hospitals. Moreover, while many medical professionals indicate that the percentage of flu patients seen recently at local hospitals is typical for this time of year, the severity of the cases and complications is not normal. The elderly are being hit the hardest, Antelope Valley Hospital spokesperson Gary Cothran said, noting that the flu is "infecting their lungs and causing more severe health problems." Theories abound as to the cause of the unusually severe outbreak. A summer virus that has lingered into winter, thanks to the warm weather, is one possible culprit, while others say that the Santa Ana winds have increased allergies and respiratory ailments. Whatever the causes, the only cure is rest and fluids, medical experts report (Verdin, AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.