Incidents of flu may be attributed to tourists


403 flu virusSt Augustine residents have not been spared from attacks of the flu over the holidays; and, reports from area urgent care centers indicate that tourists coming to town on vacation are one of the reasons for the recent spike.

Historic City News spoke to St Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure today about the problem. McClure is President of one of the largest family medicine healthcare providers in Northeast Florida, Medi M.D; whose corporate headquarters is in Palencia.

“I see the daily reports,” McClure said. “Over the past 30-days, we’ve seen at least 14 cases, up over the same time last year.”

The former Solantic location on US-1 across from Flagler Hospital, now known as CareSpot Express Healthcare, reports seeing many new flu cases daily — an increase of 167-percent of patients with the flu since Christmas.

“We see a lot of tourists, especially here in St Augustine, so I think everyone is just bringing different bugs to the area — and its flu season,” Care Spot Center Manager Christina Hovnanian told reporters. “One of the main reasons is because of the travel season.”

McClure said that this is a particularly nasty strain of flu. “We are seeing infected patients taking at least another 24-48 hours to recover,” citing the fact that these cases are viral infections — not bacterial that could easily be treated with antibiotics.

“Keep hydrated … water, water, water,” McClure said. “Prevention is key to avoid getting sick.”

“You wanna make sure that you’re washing your hands and getting rest,” said Hovnanian. “If you start noticing symptoms, get in to see a doctor as soon as possible to take advantage of some of the medications that are out there.”

For a town like St Augustine where tourism is the “life blood” of the economy, that is bad news. If the travelers are contributing to the problem, those of us who live here can look forward to continuing infection as the virus runs its course.

Patients have described suffering from awful hot and cold flashes, sweating in bed, being unable to breathe, can’t eat, can’t do anything but lie there and be miserable.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is one of the states with the highest number of flu cases. Check out the flu-tracker on the CDC’s website for more information about the flu.

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