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Milwaukee area hospitals overflow with flu patients


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - The flu season has become so bad in Wisconsin that Milwaukee area hospitals have had to send incoming ambulances to other hospitals – because their emergency rooms are packed with older flu patients.

Paul Biedrzycki of the Milwaukee Health Department said Wednesday afternoon that up to 8 of Milwaukee County’s 11 hospitals have had to shut down their ER’s except for life-threatening cases. That’s because their beds have been taken up by those with the most serious flu cases – and staffers have been preoccupied in treating them.

Biedrzycki said the problem is unique to Milwaukee, as other cities around the state have not reported similar problems.

He said Milwaukee hospitals are seeing almost as many cases as in 2009, when the H1N1 swine flu reached pandemic levels. Biedrzycki said flu shots are still available, and Tamiflu is flying off the shelves are pharmacies.

Tamiflu is an anti-viral medicine that can reduce symptoms within two days before they set in. It’s often prescribed to those who are most at risk getting severe flu complications like pneumonia.

If the situation continues for another week, Biedrzycki says Tamiflu may only be available for the highest-risk patients.