DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu in Georgia and much of the southeast is now widespread.
Channel 2's Diana Davis talked to one flu patient who nearly died and her doctor who says this is one of the worst flu seasons he's seen in decades.
Rosalind Eaves spent more than a week in a hospital and the intensive care unit with flu and pneumonia. Even though she's' at home
now, she still needs extra oxygen.
"I nearly died of flu," Eaves told Davis.
Eaves said she didn't get a flu shot because she's allergic to eggs, which are used to make flu vaccine.
"But if I could get them, I would get them. I would never want to go through this again. It's been horrible," Eaves said.
The CDC now says the flu is widespread in the Midwest and southeast, including Georgia.
DeKalb Medical Hospital's Dr. Rob Dretler told Davis he hasn't seen a flu season this bad in a while.
"We've been seeing an incredible early epidemic and much more than I've seen in the last 40 years. I would say it's tenfold more than we've seen at DeKalb Medical in the last month than I've seen in any other December," Dretler said.
Dretler believes the actual number of cases in the Atlanta metro and around the
country are worse than the data coming in to the CDC indicate.
"We've had several people in the ICU with
influenza, and most flu seasons we might have one person in the whole season," Dretler said.
Dretler said the hospital staff is testing so many sick people for flu that the hospital is running short of rapid flu tests. DeKalb Medical says it's confirmed 143 cases so far.
When it comes to those positive flu tests for patients in the hospital, Dretler told Davis he knows those are only the tip of the iceberg, and there's a lot more flu around.
"I would think that our area has at least 10 times that, patients that aren't coming to the hospital, just trying to cope at home," Dretler said.
Dretler said staying at home in bed and drinking lots of fluids is the best remedy. The prescription medication Tamiflu can help if you take it within the first couple days of symptoms.
"Tamiflu in the first 72 hours of symptoms will markedly diminish your symptoms," Dretler said.
Eaves still needs home care from a nurse. She's been told her symptoms could linger several more weeks.