By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flu numbers continue to grow in our area. Emergency departments are flooded with patients. And the flu epidemic being especially dangerous for babies.
Thirteen-week-old Carlos Macedo is hospitalized at Abington Health with the flu and phenomena. Dr. Deborah silver with CHOP care at Abington Health says, “The younger you are, the weaker your immune system, and the more likely you are to have secondary complications.”
Mom Fernanda Colula says when she heard her baby had the flu, “I wanted to cry right then and there when they told me but I’m like…I have to be strong for him.”
Carlos is too young for a flu shot, but his mom made sure everyone else in the family got the vaccine. The problem is this year’s vaccine isn’t that effective and influenza is now an epidemic. Dr. Silver says, “It’s easily spread and it can live on surfaces for hours. So even if you’re not in direct contact with someone, if they’ve touched someone recently, then you still may be able to catch it.”
Carlos’ mom says the family has been out a lot recently, “Maybe on one of the trips we went out or during the holidays probably he got something from there.”
The baby was among more than 270 patients seen in Abington’s emergency department on Monday alone. It was so busy the hospital went on a temporary divert status, which rarely happens here. Dr. Steven Fisher the chairman of the Emergency Department explains, “We were unable to move people through in which case we had a number of patients down in the emergency department which limited our ability to see new people.” He says only people with flu complications are admitted. Others are usually sent home with a prescription for Tamiflu, which has been in short supply in some places. Dr. Fisher says, “I think it’s a flu season of significance.”
The PA Health Department says there are now nearly 1,000 confirmed flu cases in just Montgomery County. In Delaware, last year at this time, there had been 100 flu cases. There are already over 1,000.