Kay Ivey declares State of Emergency due to widespread flu outbreak

flu sick
The past month has seen an explosion of influenza (flu) cases across Alabama leading Gov. Kay Ivey to declare a State Public Health Emergency on Thursday.
Reported influenza activity by public health district
Reported influenza activity by public health district [Photo Credit: ADPH]
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Alabama is experiencing widespread flu activity, and hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms. Emergency departments and outpatient clinics are also seeing very high volumes of patients.At this time, this is not a pandemic flu situation, but a major seasonal flu situation.

According to the governor’s proclamation, healthcare facilities in the state are overwhelmed by the number of patients with the flu and are taxed to such an extent that care of patients may now no longer be provided in the traditional, normal, and customary manner nor is the utilization of traditional, normal, and customary standards of care possible. The emergency declaration allows those facilities to implement “alternative standards of care” plans. ADPH says alternative standards of care allow medical personnel to both streamline and simplify the support process to preserve lives.

The proclamation also states the State of Emergency is to remain in effect until it is rescinded by the governor. 

Flu outbreak
[Photo Credit: CDC]
Ivey’s declaration follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) saying the 2018 flu season is expected to be one of the worst in recent years. Widespread cases have been reported in 46 states, including Alabama. According to the CDC, the flu has already resulted in the deaths of over 100 individuals, at least 13 of which were children, since it began in October.

To avoid getting and spreading the flu, the ADPH urges the general public to follow “Do 10 – Fight the Flu” actions:

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Wash your hands
  3. Cover your coughs and sneezes
  4. Stay home with fever
  5. Stockpile supplies
  6. Clean and disinfect
  7. Know your office emergency plan
  8. Learn home care
  9. Call your doctor if symptoms get worse
  10. Stay informed

Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

If you are able to contact your doctor within 48 hours of onset of symptoms, you can potentially be administered an antiviral drug which will reduce the severity of symptoms in addition to the length of the illness.