Marion County health officials say this season's rate of flu activity and respiratory complaint reports is greater than last season's.
Public Health Department Director Virginia Caine says the number of patients seeking treatment in hospital emergency departments is a growing concern.
“We are having hospitals say – telling ambulances – you have to divert patients," Dr. Caine says. "You can’t bring a patient to us that has influenza type symptoms because we are full to capacity and our waiting rooms are just lining with patients just out in the hallways.”
To help lessen the demands on emergency departments, Dr. Caine suggests seeking care elsewhere.
“We encourage them to go to urgent care facilities, or try to get into community health centers, or try to get into your primary care provider," she says. "Then, if you feel really sick you go to the hospital.”
And, it's never too late to get a flu shot.
To date, four Marion County residents died because of the flu. Statewide, there were 25 flu-associated deaths as of Dec. 30.