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Flu-related deaths on the rise

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the number of flu cases in the state continues to rise and unfortunately, so has the number of flu-related deaths.

To date, there are a total of 2,456 reports of the flu with six deaths throughout the state and with the most common type being Type A. Here is the breakdown by county:

  • New Haven County: 629 flu cases
  • Fairfield County: 691 flu cases
  • Hartford County: 456 flu cases
  • Windham County: 179 flu cases
  • Middlesex County: 208 flu cases
  • New London County: 132 flu cases
  • Litchfield County: 96 flu cases
  • Tolland County: 65 flu cases

According to the statement, the number of people who have visited a doctor or hospital with a fever or flu is higher than the past two seasons and is almost double that of years past.

"It was awful. I was in bed for three days. I couldn't get out of bed," said Bobbie Leveille of Bristol, who got the flu this season. "I have four children I had to take care of. I had the chills the aches the pains the sweats, everything."

The widespread flu has created long lines at hospitals and their emergency rooms. Now, many hospitals and other facilities are taking other precautions and changing visitation policies.

At Bristol Hospital and Connecticut Children's Medical Center, children under the age of 18 are not allowed to visit. And at Bristol Hospital only two adult visitors per patient can visit.

"We just don't have the capacity to handle the huge influx of people with this flu like illness," said Dr. Richard Zweig, who is the Chief of Infectious Disease at Bristol Hospital.

Zweig said hospital officials are doing every thing they can right now to find space for patients with the flu.

"We've had to double up on some patients with the flu," he said. "We've had to clear out some private rooms. We just don't have enough space. We actually had to board people in the emergency room overnight."

Zweig said flu season usually doesn't peak until late January or February, but the cases began early this year. He told Eyewitness News that he still expects the numbers to continue to rise for the next few weeks.

If someone has not gotten their flu shot yet, doctors said you should still get it as they have no idea how long this season will last. If you do get a vaccine, it will take 10 to 14 days before it becomes effective.

"You can still get the flu shot, if you can find it that's still the best protection," Zweig said. "Even though, it's not 100 percent. It's still the best that we have."

To find the closest flu vaccine location, click the following link.

However several pharmacies told Eyewitness News that they are running out of flu vaccine shots.

"We had flu shots, we had about 450, and we just ran out this past friday," said Cory Mascalo, who is a pharmacist at Beacon Prescriptions in Bristol. 

Mascalo added that the last few weeks were hectic and his store was one of the last places in the city to have flu vaccines.

"Back in December, we had a lot of flu shots left we thought we were gonna get stuck with a lot of them," he said "And then, the epidemic hit and all of a sudden, we got another big rush. And we ran out pretty quickly."

The Connecticut Department of Public Health released the following tips on avoiding the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Call your healthcare provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms to determine if a medical evaluation is necessary; antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness.

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