Many feeling sick in advance of flu season

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by Steve Bodinet

azfamily.com

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 10 at 2:28 PM

PHOENIX -- Urgent care facilities, doctor's offices and hospital ERs are filled with those who think they have the flu.

But, RN Ashley Bergeron of Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa says flu season is still a few weeks away.  She said most people are coming down with respiratory infections or a type of stomach virus which they mistake for the flu.

Bergeron said the best way to avoid getting sick during the winter, or at anytime of year, is to thoroughly wash your hands often during the day. She adds that no matter what your symptoms are, seek medical help if they don't get better after three or four days.

There's a chance some of the Valley's stomach problems could have come courtesy of Fiesta Bowl fans from Oregon, where doctors have been dealing with an outbreak of the norovirus. 

Often called the "cruise ship disease" because it spreads so quickly in crowds, the norovirus usually isn't prevented from normal flu shots that many get. 

In Portland, Ore. there have been 75 confirmed cases since Christmas and Dr. Jamie Schlueter of Providence Portland Medical Center warns that the virus can hit the same person a number of times as their immune system is weakened. 

Now there's a concern that the close quarters of the Fiesta Bowl could help the nasty stomach virus spread to Arizonans and fans of Oregon's football foe, Kansas State.

As with any stomach virus, Bergeron advises drinking plenty of liquids to avoid getting dehydrated.

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