Influenza becoming more widespread across bi-state -

Influenza becoming more widespread across bi-state

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- Has the flu got you down?  You're not alone.  Health departments across the area are reporting a spike in influenza cases this week, and some people are finding out that the number one drug used to treat the flu is in short supply.

The Centers for Disease Control keeps a weekly map that tracks the spread of the influenza virus.  It's become widespread in Illinois, and Missouri is heading in the same direction.

"A lot of fevers, aches and pains, a lot of coughs and colds," Dr. Ann Diamio, pediatric ER doctor at Cardinal Glennon said.

The ER at Cardinal Glennon has been so packed with sick kids for the past week, the hospital has opened an over-flow waiting room.

"I've seen many prescriptions recently for Tamiflu prescriptions," Angie Kloppel, pharmacist at Ladue Pharmacy, said.  "It's probably increased in the last two weeks or do." Not only is Tamiflu used to treat influenza, it's also used to prevent it.  Kloeppel says that's why it's in high demand.  If one person gets the flu, a doctor might prescribe tamiflu for the whole family.

"We did try to order some and were unable to get some, but we ordered some from a secondary Tamiflu in stock," Kloeppel said. Pharmacists say the drug can be hard to come by because manufacturers restrict how much each pharmacy can order.

"We stock up on it right when we see the season hitting," Kloeppel said.

Doctors think we're at the peak of flu season but say the mild winter did a lot to minimize it.

"That's one of the reasons they're attributing why we haven't seen such a bad flu season is because it hasn't been that cold; we are out more," Dr. Diamio said.  "The more closed in, the more kids are together, the more they're going to share germs."

But plenty of sharing is going around.  Flu cases in the city of St. Louis nearly doubled from last week from 189 cases to 363 cases.  In fact, two local catholic schools cancelled classes this week to clean and give sick kids time to recover without infecting their friends.

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