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FOX Medical Team

Local hospitals try to prevent spread of flu

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ATLANTA -

The flu is keeping emergency room and healthcare providers very busy in Georgia.

There is a little bit of good news: because the flu hit about five weeks early here in the Southeast, we may see a drop in flu infections pretty soon.  The bad news is we're not out of the woods just yet.

FOX 5's Beth Galvin checked in with some Atlanta hospitals to see what steps they're taking to try to prevent the flu from spreading.

Atlanta OBGYN Dr. Dawn Mandeville asks about flu shots a lot these days.
    
"I've seen a lot of patients sick.  They come in with runny noses, cough, sneezing, just generally not feeling well," said Mandeville.

Mandeville's practice, Atlanta Obstetrics and Gynecology, encourages all of its pregnant patients to get vaccinated against flu, because they're at higher risk of serious flu complications, because their immune systems are suppressed.

"There are so many changes that occur in a pregnant woman's body, that the body is just concentrating on that.  And, literally, it can't take the whole load of making a baby and fighting off infection," said Mandeville.

Trying to slow the spread of flu is an around-the-clock job for most hospitals.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's three ERs have been busy since November, when flu season began heating up about five weeks earlier than usual.

Most hospitals require medical staff to be vaccinated for flu. Some hospitals, like Children's and Piedmont Hospital, have had to restrict visitors coming in to see patients, though Grady Memorial Hospital says it hasn't had to do so yet.
 
Mandeville says her staff's secret weapon is hand sanitizer. She says she uses it 75 to 100 times a day.

"We're touching our patients.  And they're touching us too, so definitely we want to decrease the risk of transmission," said Mandeville.

Jenny Meyer-Carper is both a doctor and a patient, 20 weeks pregnant with her first baby. Meyer-Carper says she's counting on her flu shot, hand sanitizer and a little luck get her through the flu season.

"It's maybe made me a little bit more nervous this fall, or this year, but I've been lucky and been fine so far," Meyer-Carper said.

It's not too late to get your flu shot, and the CDC is recommending it for everyone six months and older.  But it is becoming harder to find flu vaccine, so you may have to work a little extra hard to find your flu shot.

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