An unexpectedly deadly strain of influenza has been menacing the nation this winter season, causing infectious disease specialists and hospitals to quickly respond to a surge of patients. Based on last week’s data, and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, the influenza-like illness (ILI) has reached near flu epidemic proportions, with a total of 45 people having died so far.
The outbreak doesn’t yet classify as an epidemic on the nationwide level, although that may soon change and it has reached epidemic levels in some states. The CDC categorizes a flu as epidemic when the percentage of deaths exceeds a threshold that is set based on previous years’ data. With the growing number of cases, hospitalizations and doctor’s visits are rapidly increasing.
Hospitals are struggling to accommodate the surge of patients with the contagious virus and in some cases, such as Palomar Medical Center in California, medical tents, medical shelter systems designed for rapid setup to respond to emergency and hospital surge situations, as well as other deployable medical facilities are being used to expand hospital facilities to meet patient need. After receiving a 40 percent surge in patients in recent weeks, Palomar began using medical tents to screen patients for the flu, admitting them to the hospital or treating and sending them home based on the severity of their condition.
Patient hospitalization for flu-like symptoms has doubled nationally in the last two weeks, and is about 35 percent higher than this time last year. Since the peak season for the flu is usually late January through early February, health officials are hoping this is just an earlier flu season.
Cases of flu are pretty widespread across the contiguous United States, with more than 41,000 cases reported nationwide. Arkansas and Texas have been hardest hit, although California has experienced particularly deadly outcomes from the outbreak, as 27 people under the age of 65 have died since October, compared to only four deaths from the state’s last flu season.
In California, hospitalizations for flu-like symptoms doubled in just one week, and ER cases were triaged in hallways because there wasn’t enough room for all of the patients. This flu season has certainly pushed hospitals beyond their capacity, requiring them to find additional facilities to accommodate the surge of patients.
BLU-MED Response Systems® has hospital surge facilities and expandable hospital containers ready for rapid deployment, with medical facilities capable of being setup in less than 15 minutes. BLU-MED mobile hospitals, facilities and portable medical shelters have been used around the world by government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), cities, municipalities, hospitals, emergency management services, and first responders.
BLU-MED negative-pressure isolation systems (NPIS) were used extensively to treat and care for patients during the 2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. While less virulent, the influenza-like illness seen this flu season may prompt for more strict isolation and containment procedures. BLU-MED patient isolation systems can be configured and used for infectious airborne viruses and diseases.
Contact BLU-MED Response Systems by calling 425-739-2795 (US) to discuss your medical shelter or hospital surge facility requirement. Or use the online form.