Widespread Flu Outbreak in Georgia 2018

Important Patient Update

Influenza is widespread in Georgia and receiving a lot of appropriate attention from the media. This is causing an unusual surge in volume (even for flu season) for all healthcare providers. We are committed to providing the highest quality care as efficiently as possible during this time.

You may occasionally experience increased wait times while we address the unusual demand, but the staff at Piedmont Urgent Care is working extremely hard to keep things moving and to minimize the burden for you.

Some Influenza Facts:

1. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. It can cause mild to severe illness. Most often patients will need to stay home from work / school while they recover. The high fever and body aches are prominent and usually last 3-5 days, while the cough and fatigue can last 2 weeks (and occasionally longer). Serious complications can result from influenza infection, so it is important to seek care if you are concerned. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications.

2. Flu tests can confirm that you have the virus but these tests are usually not needed to make the diagnosis. The pattern of illness is very typical and a presumptive diagnosis is usually sufficient without testing. Because of the high volume, flu tests are decreasingly available or back-ordered.

3. Vomiting and diarrhea are NOT prominent symptoms of seasonal influenza. These symptoms are more common with a different infection called “gastroenteritis”, which has been commonly referred to as “stomach flu”. The nomenclature similarity is why there is confusion between the two.

4. While the flu vaccine will not prevent all infections, it is nonetheless the most effective way to protect yourself from the virus. You CANNOT get flu from the flu vaccine. There is no virus in it. If you do get the flu despite being vaccinated, your infection is often milder, of shorter duration, and has a reduced risk of complication.

5. Influenza does not respond to antibiotics. There is a medication (brand name Tamiflu ®) that can shorten the duration of the flu by a day or two if it is started within 24-48 hours of onset. There may be other indications, but your provider will discuss these with you. There is a short supply of Tamiflu due to the demand, so you may need to hunt around for a pharmacy that has it in stock.

Thanks again for your patience and understanding during this unusual flu season, we wish you a safe and healthy 2018. Please let our staff know if you have additional questions.

Lee A. Resnick, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet