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Influenza Cases Spike In New Jersey [POLL/AUDIO]

There’s a major flu outbreak in Jersey and across the region.

Jessica Kourkounis, Getty Images

Dr. Rick Hong, Division Head of Emergency Medicine at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, says, “Definitely this earlier peak of seasonal flu is having an impact on the healthcare system – it’s very similar to what we saw with H1N1 where the volume coming into the Emergency Department is higher than expected.”

He says, “So far, we’re able to handle it but we also want to be prepared…We haven’t seen any surprises in terms of mortality rates per se – as you know people do, unfortunately, do die from seasonal flu in general – the peak being as early as it is, is a little concerning, also we’re kind of suspicious of the vaccine is not as efficacious as we had hoped it would be…We’re recommending that people get vaccinated, but people do need to be aware there are other strains of the flu, and you may not be protected 100 percent.”

Doctor: It’s Putting a Strain on the System

Dr. Shelley Greenman of the Cooper University Hospital ER says, “It is putting a strain on the system, however we are stepping up to the plate, and able to care for all who have come to the emergency department.”

Dr. Hong adds exposure to the flu can be dangerous because “If you don’t have any natural immunity and you’re not vaccinated, then pretty much you’re not protected- so it’s possible this is a type of strain that we just have never been exposed to and as a result we’re getting symptoms that are worse than we’re typically used to.”

Dr.Herb Conaway, Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, says, “I understand now in Pennsylvania they’ve put people out in tents, because they’ve got so much pressure from the illness of flu on Emergency rooms…in New Jersey there’s been an unusually high number of severe flu cases so far…which is stressing health care operations all over the state.”

Diane Anderson, the Director of Emergency Preparedness for the New Jersey Hospital Association, says, “We’re not setting up tents yet – our ED’s are handling it – they have surge areas – they have extended treatment areas, they’ve brought in additional staff…hospitals are doing a tremendous job, they’re seeing a significant number of patients, but they’re handling it and they ‘re handling it well.”

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