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Local Hospital Already Seeing Influenza Patients

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - At least six cases of influenza have been confirmed in the Pittsburgh region.

In Washington County, Washington Hospital has seen only one confirmed case of the flu, so far. But at Mon Valley Hospital, the numbers are looking a lot different.

Get ready for the mean season - fever, coughs, sore throats, headaches and body aches.

We are now on the cusp of the flu season, which traditionally runs from October through March, but can go on as late as May.

At Mon Valley Hospital, they've already logged six confirmed cases.

"Making sure that the patients who are coming in with respiratory symptoms, we are masking," says Kathy Liberatore, the manager of Infection Prevention and Control at the hospital.

That's just one of the cautionary measures being taken.

"Five of them Influenza-A, one Influenza-B, which is very early this time of year," said Dr. Robert Smith, the assistant medical director of the Emergency Department.

Mon Valley Hospital had one case in July, two cases in August and three so far in September.

"We've had a total of six cases confirmed by our laboratory at this point," said Dr. Smith.

Four of those cases had to be hospitalized, the age range 45 to 80 years of age.

"They are placed in droplet precautions in their private room in the hospital if they are an inpatient," says Liberatore.

"Usually, these are people that have already had respiratory illnesses in the past such as asthma, emphysema, that sort of thing," adds Dr. Smith.

Because of these cases, staff flu shots at Mon Valley have been moved up.

"Our ED is being prioritized for the immunizations over the other staff," said Liberatore.

The flu vaccines appear to be a good match for this year's viruses.

"And there's two types," Liberatore says. "There's the Trivalent that has three. It has two A-strains and a B. And there's the Quadvalent."

But the early start may indicate a galloping flu season ahead.

"Absolutely," says Dr. Smith. "Get your flu shots this year."

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