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Kalamazoo doctor says city is in ‘middle of flu season’ and cases beginning to rise

Posted at 8:18 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 10:27:25-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The number of flu cases in West Michigan is increasing, according to local health care groups.

Dr. Richard Van Enk with Bronson Healthcare said the number of cases in the Kalamazoo area are "normal" and about average. However he is starting to see a rise.

“Influenza is a very serious pneumonia and so it really damages the lungs a lot,” said Dr. Van Enk who is the director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Bronson. “Anytime you have that kind of lung damage you’re quite sick. You can be sick for three or four weeks.”

Dr. Van Enk said the flu is a virus that’s mainly spread though the hands. That’s why he stresses the importance of people washing their hands all the time.

“We’re in the middle of flu season right now,” Dr. Van Enk said. “So we definitely need to be aware of that and take care of ourselves.”

He also recommended getting good sleep, eating well, reducing stress and exercising to fend off the flu.

“Do you know those wipes that they have along the side of the gym that you use to wipe down your equipment? Use them," he said. “. Use them before and after you exercise so you don’t leave all of your germs there for the next person.”

Dr. Van Enk said currently there’s two strains of the flu going around, types A and B. Anyone can get both. So, the best way to prevent from getting the virus is to get the flu shot.

“It should protect you against all of the influenza strains circulating that year,” he said. “It does not contain live viruses. So you can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine.”

And if a person is feeling sick with flu-like symptoms — high fever over 100 degrees, headaches and exhaustion — it’s best they remain home, he said.

“Many people say they remember the hour that their flu infection hit,” Dr. Van Enk said. “It’s quite a dramatic thing and you’ll feel very very tired and you’ll want to go home.”

The Spectrum Health group in Grand Rapids recently reported that 3,300 people went to the emergency room, urgent care, or their primary care doctor, seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms in November and December.