GOODING, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Flu season is underway in the Magic Valley, but some areas are seeing it worse than others.
Wendy Mohr has worked at North Canyon Medical Center in Gooding for 14 years, and said the number of flu cases this year is unusual.
"We are definitely higher than the national average," she said.
According to hospital records 30 percent of emergency room patients in December had flu symptoms.Of those, 60 percent tested positive for it.
In the first two weeks of January the numbers rose even higher with 35 percent of ER visitors showing symptoms and 61 percent of those testing positive.
"The state average for the flu on positive tests is 5.9 percent so you can see we are over ten times the amount of flue patients that we're seeing," Mohr said.
Even St. Luke's Magic Valley, only about 35 miles away, isn't seeing numbers that high.
"This year's flu season has been pretty brisk," said Emergency Physician Scott Holliday. "Most of them usually are though."
Mohr said a few things are contributing to Gooding's high numbers, like the weather.
"The flu really likes a cold dry weather pattern, it spreads easily that way," she said.
But the biggest culprit she's seen is people turning down flu shots.
"We have a lower compliance rate with flu vaccinations," she said.
Mohr and Dr Holliday said the best time to get the flu shot is in October when the season starts, but it's never too late.
"We're really not through the flu season yet, so if you haven't had a chance to get a flu shot that's really the best thing to do," Holliday said.
Mohr said all of this is increasing ER wait times at North Canyon.
"We want people to come in if they're feeling bad, we want people to come if they're worried but recognize that yes our patient loads have increased due to the flu," she said.