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Cases of flu, stomach flu increasing

A combination of flu, stomach virus and sore throats have been keeping doctors busy recently.

Dr. Jason Richey of Cooper Clinic said last Tuesday was the busiest day he’s seen in his 15 years practicing medicine in Paris.

“I saw 64 patients. We were covered up,” Richey said.

The most contagious of the viruses is the stomach flu, which is caused by a norovirus, according to Richey.

“Probably more contagious than anything we’re seeing right now,” he said. “It lasts between three and seven days and we’re seeing it in our schools and in the general population. I’ve had to hospitalize two to three elderly people with it. I’ve probably seen 100 patients with it.”

Richey said he’s treating the symptoms of the virus and putting those suffering from it on a clear liquid diet.

“If they look dehydrated, we’re giving them fluids,” he said. “I’ve had to do that in quite a few cases.”

The flu has been seen in the area for quite a few weeks and Richey reported seeing a number of positive tests for flu last week.

Last week, the Arkansas Department of Health put the death toll from the 2013-14 flu season at 28.

“The number of flu deaths are scaring people,” Richey said.

The newest ADH flu report indicates samples show 94.9 percent of the flu cases reported this season have been the H1N1 or Type A flu varieties, meaning the flu shot was a match for 19 out of 20 of those cases. Through Jan. 28, there have been over 9,500 positive influenza antigen tests reported to the ADH, including 1,900 in the preceding week alone. Logan County and all of the counties it borders, with the exception of Pope, have had between 151 and 707 total flu cases reported this season. Pope has had between 51 and 100 to date.

The latest weekly flu report also states that cases have been reported in all 75 counties and that 6 percent of outpatient visits and 14 percent of patients visiting emergency rooms was for influenza-like illnesses.

The school absenteeism rate for the week of the latest report was 5.93 percent. In Logan County, the school absenteeism rate for the week was 5.77 percent, according to the report.

Last week, area schools reported some illness but normal absenteeism.

In addition to the stomach flu and the flu, Richey said he’s also seeing a number of sore throat cases and upper respiratory illness.

“We see upper respiratory stuff every year,” he said. “It’s more frequent this year because of swings in the weather in one or two days.

“I’ll bet I’m seeing 10 sore throat cases a day,” Richey said. “It really hit us hard last week.”

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