Those with the flu forced to wait for relief - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Those with the flu forced to wait for relief

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Influenza hits the Heartland, and causes big crowds and long lines at doctor's offices, walk-in clinics, and pharmacies.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu is widespread in 41 states, including Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois.

Seven other states have regionally high influenza outbreaks, including Missouri.

"Generally symptoms come on really quickly, and it's a high fever and feeling miserable, tired," said Nurse Practitioner Nicole Huckabee at St. Francis Immediate Convenient Care.

"Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea," said Dr. Byron Glenn at Cape Urgent Care.

"Sore throat, cough, body aches," said Dr. Rachael Mergenmeier at Doctor's Express.

These Heartland doctors have seen the symptoms, and apparently so are a lot of you.

"It's busier, the flu season has hit earlier," said Huckabee. "It's comparable to other flu seasons in past years, it's just a little bit earlier."

"I've been inundated since probably before Christmas, in fact I came in Christmas eve even though we were closed and the phone was off the hook," said Glenn.

"We have seen more patients during this flu outbreak than we typically ever do, it's been a record breaking season," said Mergenmeier.

"This is a really bad season," said Glenn. "I don't want to say doubled how many people we've seen, but its half again at least."

Even the pharmacies are packed.

"We're seeing drastically more people this year than normally," said Broadway Prescription Shop Pharmacist Kevin Wood.

Some people said they've had to wait hours to see a doctor or pick up a prescription.

The folks at doctor's offices, walk-in clinics and pharmacies said they've had to make some changes in staffing.

"We really weren't prepared for the volume of patients we were going to see," said Mergenmeier.

"I think we've had two or three people out every day for the last week or two," said Wood.

"It really does put a strain on the staff and everybody here when you know there's a lot of sick people waiting to be seen and everybody is tired and not feeling good and wants to get to feeling better," said Huckabee.

Wood even suggested avoiding the lines all together.

"We deliver, so that might be a better option versus coming and infecting more people, it kind of spreads rapidly," said Wood.

While the offices are busy, the doctors said if you feel sick, you should still get in to see them.

"It's usually not a 24 hour bug this particular season, so the sooner you get in, the sooner we can get you Tamiflu," said Glenn.

They said this year the flu typically lasts a week or two, not the 24 hours like some cases in the past. If you get medicine like Tamiflu early on, they said it can shorten the illness time. But they stress getting the medicine within the first day or two of getting sick.

"Otherwise it's not overly effective at all," said Wood.

While a flu shot can help, doctors said it won't 100 percent prevent you from getting the flu.

All of the professionals said one of the biggest helpers in preventing the flu is really quite cheap.

"Wash your hands," said Huckabee.

"You need to keep your hands clean," said Glenn.

"Washing your hands before you eat," said Mergenmeier.

The experts also suggest coughing into your arm instead of your hand to prevent spreading the illness.

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