County sees spike in sneezes, coughs, misery
Plethora of illnesses cutting swath through homes, hospitals
Vomiting, diarrhea, coughs, congested sinuses, allergies that won’t give up, pneumonia, influenza — illnesses of all kinds have spiked in the county over the last two weeks.
Roger Schroeder, spokesman for St. Luke Hospital, said the misery has even spread to hospital staff members. An average of one staff member a day has called in sick, and others say they spent scheduled days off sick in bed.
“Every day for the last month somebody has been gone.” Schroeder said.
Since Jan. 1, 50 patients have visited the hospital emergency room with illnesses.
“What nurses said is, in the last two weeks especially there has been a lot of illness,” Schroeder said.
Patients have needed infusions of fluids because of dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
“I know we’ve had some positive checks on influenza,” Schroeder said. “We’ve also have had some patients with pneumonia.”
Hillsboro Clinic manager Julie Gardner said they, too, are seeing an uptick in assorted illnesses.
“We’re seeing a lot of what starts out as a virus and becomes a secondary infection, like bronchitis or sinuses,” Gardner said. “We’ve seen a lot of what starts out as allergies, too. It sets them off and their lungs are getting inflamed. They’ve needed steroids to get that calmed down.”
Several patients have tested positive for influenza type A in Hillsboro.
Influenza generally spreads more when weather is cold and people are inside with one another, Gardner said.
The clinic still has flu shots available and gives them as needed, but flu shots take about two weeks to take effect.
Anyone finding themselves in need of treatment can be seen at Hillsboro Clinic during walk-in hours of 8 to 9 a.m., Gardner said. Walk-in patients are seen on a first come, first served basis, but if there are too many to be seen during that time, they will be scheduled later that same day.
County health nurse Diedre Serene said people with coughs should cough into their elbows instead of their hands.
“If you use a tissue, make sure you throw it away, not touch it, and wash your hands with soap and water,” Serene said.
December through February are when large increases in influenza cases usually happen, Serene said.
Influenza can be very dangerous for children younger than 5 years, or those with certain long-term health problems such as asthma, nervous system disorders, and diabetes. These children also have a higher risk of complications such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear or sinus infections.
More than the typical number of Marion High School students have been out sick but not a tremendous number, Erin Meyerhoff at Marion High School.
“We have 12 out today due to illness,” Marion Elementary School secretary Deb Shipman said. “That, I’d say, is very common for this time of year. We have 230 students.”
Shipman said one student this week tested positive for influenza type B.
Peabody-Burns superintendent Ron Traxson said the schools are seeing a typical number of students out sick, but is aware the story is different at other schools.
Last modified Jan. 16, 2020