Flu on the rise in West Michigan

Posted at 6:09 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 18:49:36-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling this year's flu season an epidemic, and data from West Michigan backs that up.

In Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health runs a video app called MedNow where patients can see a health care professional from their own home. They say they typically see 70 to 80 patients per day with this app, but that number went up drastically last week.

"Last week we saw 125 patients in one day," said Amanda Reed, director of operations for MedNow. "That was our new high water mark. And we are expecting it to increase over the next few weeks."

In Ottawa County, the numbers tell a similar tale. Positive influenza test results from health care providers more than doubled from the week ending Dec. 23 to the week ending Jan. 6.

"This year the symptoms are very similar to what they've been in the past," said Marcy Achterhof, Clinical Manager for Holland Hospital's Emergency Department. "However, the cases are on the rise. We've seen twice as many just this past week than we did the week prior."

Even though West Michigan health care professionals we spoke with say the flu isn't any more severe than in previous years, it does seem to be spreading more quickly. So to protect yourself, experts say wash your hands, sanitize common surfaces, and get your flu shot. Even now, it's not too late.