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CDC reports Nebraska is in 'Very High' category for flu cases: '25% of the tests being positive'

Posted at 7:27 PM, Dec 05, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Just last week, about 1,000 positive flu cases were reported in Douglas County. This season alone, we are on track to pass 3,500 by the end of the week.

"Every time we have tests we are testing about 25% of the tests being positive," said Dr. Renuga Vivekanadan, chief of infectious diseases at CHI Health.

That puts Nebraska in the 'very high' category.

"We haven't had a high flu season, I would say, in the last couple of years compared to this year and we also have other viruses circulating," Vivekanandan said.

With RSV, COVID-19 and the flu, CHI officials said it can be tricky to figure out what you have.

"Call your primary care physician's office, explain your symptoms and see what they recommend," said Dr. Michael Schooff, primary care medical director at CHI Health.

CHI said its hospitals are stressed, especially with pediatric bed availability.

"We are kind of expanding our in-patient capacity, to handle this. So things are stressed but not overwhelmed," said Dr. Jason Kruger, chief medical officer at CHI Health St. Elizabeth.

The Douglas County Health Department said we are on track for this year to be one of the world flu seasons in a decade. Last year, the whole season, which runs from October to April, the county saw 3,700 cases.

"Historically this time of year we see about 280 patients a day across the Omaha metro. Right now, we are seeing an average of 480 patients a day," Schooff said.

And most of those are respiratory illnesses. It's also possible to get two viruses at one time. CHI said it's seen patients who have both flu and COVID-19.

"We call it co-infection and so I have seen both viruses, it is happening, not as often, but there are cases," Vivekanandan said.

CHI said kids ages four and under make up the majority of flu cases, recently.

"Anybody over the age of six months can get influenza vaccine so I think it is really important for everyone to get vaccinated," Vivekanandan said.

Children's Hospital and Medical Center said 40% of patients tested for the flu last week were positive. Health leaders said it's not too late to get vaccinated. They recommend you get your flu shot, COVID booster, and continue to wash your hands, stay home when you're sick and wear a mask when possible.

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