Tri-state doctors seeing severe flu season

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Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 6:16 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - As the seasons change and the temperature drops, it means flu season is here as well. Local doctors say this year’s is already looking severe.

Dr. Gina Huhnke, Deaconess Regional Medical Director for Emergency Departments, has decades of medical experience, but she says she’s never seen anything quite like the last couple years.

“Obviously we’ve never seen a pandemic like COVID before in my entire career, and so that definitely makes this situation unique,” said Huhnke.

She says even though the worst of COVID-19 seems to be behind us, it has some lingering effects, including on flu season.

“We’ve seen a very severe flu season so far,” said Huhnke. “Our census with influenza is very, very high.”

She says COVID-19 made people more aware on how to take care of themselves when it comes to respiratory illnesses, but the steps people took to limit the spread of the virus may have had other consequences as well.

“It helped prevent us from COVID and it’s what we needed to do,” said Huhnke. “We wouldn’t reverse that in any way, but now the consequence is we have a decreased immunity to influenza which is normally present every single year and just wasn’t present for the last couple of years.”

She says so far, this year’s flu season appears to be more severe than those before the pandemic, at times putting a strain on outpatient facilities and increasing wait times at urgent cares. With the holidays around the corner, she doesn’t see it slowing down either.

“Many, many people are ill, and I anticipate that that’s going to increase over the next couple of weeks with the number of family gatherings and the number of cases in the tri-state region,” said Huhnke.

Dr. Huhnke says to seek medical treatment if you have severe shortness of breath, persistent vomiting, severe abdominal or chest pain, confusion or an altered mental state; or if you can’t keep anything down, you can’t make urine, or you turn blue around the lips.

For information on how to get a flu shot through Deaconess, visit https://www.deaconess.com/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccine/Flu-Shot-Scheduling.