PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The flu is hitting people hard in the Portland area this winter and doctors say it’s shaping up to be the worst flu season in a decade.
Already, doctors say the number of confirmed flu cases in the region is at its highest in five years.
The highly-contagious viral infection is only just getting started but hospitals in the area have been treating dozens of patients every week.
Hospitals have also seen a recent rise in the potentially life-threatening virus, RSV. A growing number of infants have been diagnosed with the infection that affects the lungs and respiratory tract. For most people, RSV is like a bad cold but is dangerous for babies and those with weak immune systems.
The viruses that cause the flu and RSV are lung-related and can quickly lead to breathing problems. For some patients, the viruses can be life-threatening.
A 32-year-old Medford man who didn’t get a flu shot was fighting for his life on Wednesday. Eric Valencia came down with the flu just before Christmas and, over two weeks later, was hooked up to a special lung machine in the critical care unit of Providence Portland Medical Center.
Valencia is expected to recover. But his family hopes his dangerous experience motivates others to get the flu shot.
Doctors say parents should get their babies checked if they are concerned about the flu or RSV and keep people with colds and coughs away from little ones.
The flu season is expected to last several more months. Doctors say you should get your flu shot if you haven’t yet.