Emergency room admissions are skyrocketing. Staffs are working at full capacity in medical establishments, which have recorded several deaths. The “Hospital in tension” plan has been triggered.
Dr. Pierre-Marie Tardieux has seen a very clear increase in admissions to the emergency department of the CHU in Nice for cases of influenza and gastroenteritis.
The curve is impressive. The flu and gastro epidemic in the Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur region, and in the Alps-Maritimes in particular, has seen a startling rise.
“We attacked the slope in mid-December, and it is very tough,” confirms Dr. Pierre-Marie Tardieux, responsible for access to health care in the emergency department of the Pasteur Hospital in Nice.
The “Hospital in tension” plan has been triggered. It makes it possible, if necessary, to recall personnel or postpone scheduled hospital appointments.
“Emergency activity, linked to influenza-like illnesses, is on the rise. It is higher than expected during this period. Hospital admissions have been rising for the past two weeks,”said the Regional Health Agency (ARS) in its latest epidemiological bulletin issued Tuesday. The ARS notes that activity for practicing SOS doctors is also on the rise.
Flu: at least 3 deaths in hospital
In the emergency department of Pasteur Hospital in Nice, flu cases are sky-rocketing.
“The number of admissions rose from 200 to 300-320 per day. We’re seeing a lot of seniors,” notes Pierre-Marie Tardieux. “Emergency physicians are perpetually fighting in order to find hospital beds for all these elderly patients. This exercise is very time-consuming and causes tension as the number of patients to be treated in the emergency room is constantly increasing!”
Seniors, often over 75 years old, are being admitted with respiratory complications. “The peculiarity of the flu this year is that you can suffer for three to four days of headache, sore throat, and it gets worse after five days, sometimes with complications. According to the ARS, 24 serious cases of people hospitalized in intensive care were recorded in the PACA region. “Nine are still in hospital, twelve have been cured or have been transferred to another department and three have died,” says the regional agency. Of these 24 patients, 14 had severe acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Seven of these most severe cases were already vaccinated against influenza. This does not mean that the vaccine is not effective. On the contrary. “They may have been vaccinated too late,” says Dr. Tardieux. It should be remembered that if everyone were vaccinated, it would simply not exist. ”
Is it too late to vaccinate? No, explains Dr. Tardieux, but with a big drawback: “We should remain confined fifteen days for the vaccine to be really effective. Contamination is already too developed.”
At least 5 Deaths in Total
The Regional Health Authority also points out the communities, retirement homes, senior residences, where cases of acute respiratory infections (ARI) are increasing sharply. “Since the start of surveillance, 48 cases of grouped ARI cases in fragile communities have been reported,” – said the regional agency. In 33 out of 39 cases (for which etiological research was performed), were in senior residences. The flu has been designated as the cause of illness. Twenty hospitalizations and five deaths were recorded among residents. The nursing staff has also been affected. According to the LRA, 6% of staff was affected. “We even counted up to 15% of contaminated staff,” says Dr. Tardieux. Vigilance is recommended. According to experts, the epidemic’s peak has still not been reached. The top of the curve is still far away. (Figures as of January 1, 2017)
Gastro in Retirement Homes: Alert from the Regional Agency
According to Dr. Tardieux, cases of gastroenteritis are increasing in the emergency room at the CHU in Nice. This is confirmed by the Regional Health Agency. With 295 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, it is striking hard. Especially in communities and retirement homes. Since the 1st of September 2016, 27 episodes of acute gastroenteritis have been reported, including four in establishments in the Alps-Maritimes, affecting residents and healthcare workers. Of the 23 episodes reported as completed, the average attack rate was 32% for residents and 15% for staff.
Attack rate of more than 40% in Senior Residences
Five hospitalizations were recorded in senior residences, among the residents, and one death. Note that in some senior residences, acute gastroenteritis attack rates of more than 40% were observed among residents also involved staff. The predominance of vomiting and the absence of fever leads to norovirus epidemics. “Enhanced control measures must be rapidly implemented to protect the residents,” – warns the regional health agency.
Germs: How to Protect Yourself Effectively
Pierre-Marie Tardieux, responsible for permanent access to health care in the emergency department of the Pasteur hospital in Nice, provides some valuable advice to try to guard against influenza or gastroenteritis:
–Kiss instead of shaking hands: our hands touch everything, they are in constant contact with things and people. “The mouth and the hands can carry germs, but handshakes are the worse of both cases to greet one another,” says Dr. Tardieux.
-Wash you hands several times a day: This is a way to respond to the almost inevitable hand shake in social life. “In our life we bring our hands to our mouths three or four times per hour. This is how the germs spread. Washing your hands very regularly is essential. You can use hydro-alcoholic solutions found in pharmacies.”
–Open doors with your non-dominant hand:“Door handles are nests of contamination. Use your left hand instead if you are right-handed and vice versa,”- saysProfessorTardieux.
-Throw out paper handkerchiefs: “If you sneeze into paper handkerchiefs, throw them away immediately.”
-Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze.