The flu is ramping up in Washington. So far there’s already one flu death in the state and doctors are saying you can bet it's going to get worse after the holidays.
The CDC said this year saw the earliest start to the flu season in about a decade, and a doctor with DispatchHealth said they’re expecting to treat a lot of cases.
“We do anticipate a very busy flu season. We expect it will be heavy based on what they’re seeing on the East Coast - they're usually ahead of us by a couple of months,” said Dr. Ari Malka, with DispatchHealth. The company is an urgent care service that comes to you.
The company expanded to the Seattle area a couple of months ago and launched in the Tacoma area at the end of 2018. Basically you can use the app to order a health care team to your house. You can also call for the service.
Malka said they’re already treating some flu patients and he expects the flu season will get much worse. He said there's always an uptick after people travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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“You have large gatherings of people in very small quarters and unfortunately if one member of a family gets sick, then everybody ends up sick after,” Malka said.
A team of a physician’s assistant (or sometimes a nurse) and a tech treated Michael Manza in Federal Way Wednesday. DispatchHealth got a call from him in the morning and was at his home within a couple of hours.
He was experiencing some chills and other symptoms. He did not have the flu but said he is no stranger to influenza.
“I got the flu every year, I was a teacher,” he said.
And says being able to avoid a trip to the doctor and waiting rooms, and getting care at home when you're feeling sick, makes a big difference.
“You get there on time and then you wait 45 minutes,” Manza said. “It’s much nicer home in your natural environment and stay there. Otherwise I’d have to arrange for a driver, have to set the times, and these guys just come in,” he said.
Plus doctors at DispatchHealth said it's a good way to prevent spreading whatever it is you're sick with.
“We kind of joke in the ER, if you come in with a sprained ankle, you leave with a sprained ankle and the flu,” Malka said. “So being able to avoid some of that is fantastic,” he said.
Doctors are urging you to get the flu vaccine and say the vaccine this year looks like it's a very good match with the flu viruses circulating.
Last flu season 245 people died in Washington State from influenza.