PORTLAND — Hospitals across the state have been busy for weeks with an increase of people sick from the flu and now the norovirus.
The numbers have been fluctuating, but OHSU was treating about 25 influenza patients as of Tuesday.
“One thing you can predict about influenza is that it’s going to be unpredictable. But generally once it hits in a big way, it begins to decline after a few weeks,” said Doctor John Townes, head of OHSU’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
At least eight people have died from the flu in Oregon this season and hundreds have been hospitalized.
This strain of H1N1 can be especially hard on the young, more so than others. Doctor Townes emphasizes that it’s still not too late to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, cases of norovirus are on the rise. It’s extremely contagious and causes the stomach and intestines to get inflamed. You can catch it from an infected person, food, water or surfaces that are contaminated. The CDC says norovirus causes around a million illnesses, over 50,000 hospitalizations and up to 800 deaths a year. It can be especially serious for young children and older adults.
“Often times with H1N1, they’ll have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, which you also get with norovirus,” said Providence ER doctor Ken Dirk. “And that’s unusual from the flu standpoint, because most other flu viruses don’t cause those symptoms.”
In either case, it’s best to avoid sick people, sanitize often and drink lots of fluids. Doctors can’t do much for those with norovirus besides prescribe medicine to help keep food down. They usually get better in two to three days.