Spike in hospital visits due to flu, RSV in SWFL as holiday season begins

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:


Doctors are seeing an increase in cases of the flu and respiratory virus, and resulting hospital visits, in Southwest Florida at a time when over-the-counter pain medication and amoxicillin are in short supply.

People have relaxed social distancing over the last year, which means more opportunities for germs to spread directly between people. RSV and the flu have been responsible for many students being absent from school and people calling out sick from work in recent weeks. The big concern is that the holiday season, with more people gathering with friends and family, will create the perfect circumstances for more people to get sick and pass their infections to others.

RSV and the flu are especially common in young kids and babies. Doctors and pediatricians say to make sure your child gets a flu shot, monitor any symptoms and keep them home from school if they are sick.

“You should be concerned about that; it’s just because you’re having a large influx of kids seeking medical care,” said Dr. Maria-Isabel Rosas, pediatric disease specialist at NCH. “Whether it’s the regular pediatrician’s office in the er, and also being hospitalized, and so that is a strain on the system that we’ve seen reports of, other parts of the U.S. where there’s no beds available. We’re not seeing that right now here in Naples, but we’re definitely seeing an increase in numbers of ER visits, doctor visits and hospitalizations.”

WINK News spoke to Robert Anton, whose daughter goes to Florida Gulf Coast University. He says his daughter got sick recently and he’s concerned with how fast viruses are spreading in schools and dorms.

“She got the flu a couple of weeks ago, and I think her roommates also have the flu as well,” Anton said. “I think of all the kids who get the flu shot… I know that a lot of the population has had vaccination. They’re tired of all the vaccinations, but that may be part of the reason why they’ve not been getting it, because we’ve been vaccinated so much, people are tired. But it’s critical that they get the flu vaccines, and now they have an RSV vaccine for young children, too.”

The key to staying healthy for the holidays and all winter long is getting vaccinated against these seasonal diseases, practicing good hygiene (like washing your hands frequently) and being careful when out in public.

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