Doctors warn patients to seek medical attention quickly in wake of flu epidemic

Flu vaccine can prevent severe symptoms if diagnosed, doctors say

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Doctors nationwide are concerned about the flu epidemic raging across the country.

"We have been extraordinarily busy," Dr. Marc Shapiro, of Memorial Healthcare, said. "Approximately 70 percent of what I've been seeing since this place opened two months ago is flu symptoms."

Shapiro has been seeing flu patients nonstop at the Memorial Healthcare Urgent Care in Pembroke Pines.

As the flu epidemic rages across the country, potentially the most deadly in decades, doctors nationwide are warning patients to see a doctor immediately if they start feeling sick.

"The ideal situation for people having flu symptoms -- fever, chest discomfort, coughing, aches and pains -- particularly when that fever starts, they should try to see their primary care physician, or an urgent care physician or someone who can give them a prescription for Tamilflu," Shapiro said.

Some states are reporting shortages in the only medicine known to fight influenza, even though the drug manufacturers said they have plenty.

Pharmacies in South Florida have reported no shortages.

Doctors are also urging people to get a flu vaccine, even though it's estimated to be only 30 percent effective against the H3N2 strain of the virus.

Still, doctors said the vaccine can prevent severe symptoms.

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