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US doctors feel pinch of early flu season, push for vaccinations

Published on Jan 8, 2013 7:57 AM
According to the United States (US) Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proportion of people visiting their doctor for a flu-like illness has climbed from 2.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent in the last four weeks. That compares with 2.2 per cent during last year's mild flu season and a peak of 7.7 per cent during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. -- ST PHOTO: MUHAMMAD SHAH

CHICAGO (REUTERS) - When Dr Diane Chaney arrived for her morning shift at the University of Chicago Medicine's emergency department on Monday, there were nine patients from the overnight shift waiting for treatment.

By late morning, 36 patients, most with flu symptoms, were waiting.

Across town, doctors at Rush University Medical Center have seen 203 flu patients since Nov 5, compared with 119 patients for the entire flu season last year.

"We are coming to the point where we are running out of testing supplies," said Dr Ed Ward, an expert in emergency and internal medicine at Rush, a teaching hospital.

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