Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Flu reports on the rise in Tampa Bay

The achy, feverish pains of flu season are making the rounds in the Tampa Bay region, say public health officials, who are urging residents and holiday visitors to be careful not to spread sickness.

On Christmas Day in Hillsborough County, emergency rooms treated about 33 percent more people suffering from the symptoms of flu than expected under surveillance models based on prior year statistics, said Steve Huard, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Health Department.

Not all were confirmed cases of the flu, he noted. But sufferers no doubt felt just as miserable.

"You've got to be very careful, especially people who are visiting families and babies," said Huard, urging vigilance about hand washing. "If you are sick, it's probably better to lock yourself in a room for a day or so, instead of getting your family sick."

Hillsborough was among more than a dozen Florida counties reporting moderately high levels of flu activity last week, according to statewide reports for the week ending Dec. 15, the most recent data available. At a Hillsborough elementary school, 21 students and three teachers all became sick with flulike symptoms.

Although some people think flu viruses aren't serious, severe infections routinely lead to hospitalizations and even death. Influenza kills thousands of Americans each year.

Many mistake the flu for a bad cold, but flu symptoms are generally more severe and come on suddenly, in a matter of hours. The signs of influenza can include fever, coughs, nausea, sore throats, body aches and fatigue.

Fevers of over 100 degrees and/or nausea are common complaints among patients showing up with the flu at Bayfront Convenient Care Clinics in the St. Petersburg area, which is also seeing higher numbers of cases.

"Our flu business is definitely up," general manager Cliff Thomson said Wednesday. "It's been pretty steady, but it's higher than last year."

Pinellas County emergency departments are reporting about twice as many flu cases as they were seeing before flu season, officials said, but their patient counts aren't significantly high.

Most people with the flu don't need medical care or antiviral drugs, which can lessen symptoms and prevent serious complications, like pneumonia. For mild cases, you can recover by resting at home and drinking lots of fluids.

The influenza strain circulating locally appears to be a good match for the current flu vaccine, which federal health experts recommend for everyone over the age of 6 months. The immunization takes a little time to become effective, but experts say it's not too late to get vaccinated.

In Florida, flu season traditionally spikes in January and February. It can continue into April, said Maggie Hall, spokeswoman for the Pinellas County Health Department.

"If you got a flu shot, you're pretty much protected from what seems to be going around right now," she said.

Letitia Stein can be reached at or (727) 893-8330.

Flu reports on the rise in Tampa Bay 12/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, December 27, 2012 12:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida Insiders: The state parties are dying; 'I heard someone long for the leadership of Jim Greer'


    For all the attention on Florida Democratic Chairman Stephen Bittel's bone headed gaffe this week, the diminished state of the once mighty Florida GOP today compared to even a few years ago is arguably more striking than the condition of the long-suffering Florida Democratic Party. A decade ago, no one would have …

    Florida Insider Poll
  2. Florida Democrats surging with grassroots enthusiasm, but 2018 reality is grim

    State Roundup

    After Donald Trump's election, so many people started showing up at monthly Pinellas County Democratic Party meetings, the group had to start forking out more money for a bigger room.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses Florida Democrats at the Leadership Blue Gala on June 17 in Hollywood, Fla. (Photo by Carol Porter)
  3. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  4. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy


    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Four questions with Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith before he helps lead the St. Pete Pride parade

    Human Interest

    A decade ago, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith was afraid to tell his friends and family he was gay.

    Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith will serve as a grand marshal at the St. Pete Pride parade on Saturday. [City of Largo]