Valley doctor: We are long overdue for flu epidemic

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Take precautions to avoid Valley fever and flu

MESA - 3TV has a warning for Valley residents: You need to take precautions.

Valley fever is on the rise and flu season is fast approaching as well.

3TV spoke to a local health expert about the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your family.

At Banner Baywood Medical Center they are implementing new restrictions to try and curb the spread of influenza such as limiting the contact between patients and children under the age of 12. They are also asking visitors with flu symptoms to stay out of patient rooms.

Dr. Larry Spratling warns, "There is a risk of a more serious epidemic than we usually have."

Dr Spratling says he feels we are overdue for a flu epidemic. "Pandemics of flu usually happen in 20-year cycles and the last pandemic was in 1977 or 78 with the swine flu so we are overdue."

If you want to reduce your chances of getting sick, get that flu shot and wash your hands often. "The flu is spread by what we call respiratory droplets. Those are the small microscopic droplets that spread when we cough," Dr. Spratling explains.

Along with the flu, Arizonans also have to battle Valley fever, a virus that lives in the dust here in the Valley. It hits almost everyone who moves here in the first three years and 70% of the people who contract the disease will see no symptoms. The other 30% or so will get extremely sick.

Dr. Spratling says, "Believe me, if you are a diabetic, or if you are elderly or if you have other conditions that can reduce your ability to fight infection it can be life threatening."

The majority of people hit with Valley fever are over the age of 65. There are close to five times more reported cases now than just ten years ago.

You can try and avoid Valley fever by avoiding dust storms but you really cannot avoid dirt and dust here in Arizona so odds are you will get it eventually.