Flu Rolls On In U.S...
Hospitals Maxed Out

From The Sacramento Bee
"Sacramento-area hospitals are filled to the gills with very sick patients, forcing them to close their emergency rooms from time to time and scramble for extra staff."
"County medfical officials have declared a state of emergency in response to unprecedented hospital overcrowding and have implemented a disaster control system to distribute ambulance patients to hospitals that can handle them ..."
" 'We've never had to do this before,' said Bruce Wagner, chief of emergency medical services for Sacramento County."
"At one point recently, nine out of 10 hospitals were closed to new patients, Wagner said ..."
"On Monday evening, only two emergency room beds were available countywide and 30 patients were waiting on gurneys for beds."
"Hospital and other health officials are baffled as to why the hospitals are so overwhelmed this winter. They say INFLUENZA HAS NOT YET SWEPT THROUGH THE AREA, but more patients are coming in sicker with dangerous respiratory ailments than is typical for this time of year."
"The problems in Sacramento County came to a head on Dec. 30, when nearly all hospitals in the area reported they were full. In response, county Emergency Medical Services officials declared a state of emergency and implemented the agency's first-ever centralized ambulance distribution system at the disaster control facility at UC Davis."

ATLANTA (CNN) -- A new flu strain that is slightly different from the ones that can be combated by this year's vaccine appears to be spreading in the United States.
The Type A Sydney flu virus -- which is suspected of originating in Australia and arriving in the United States via passengers on a cruise ship -- has been found in about 40 percent of all influenza cases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has studied since flu season began in October, said Stephen Ostroff of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases.
The CDC identified the Sydney strain as the cause of illness among Australian tourists who docked in New York in September while on a cruise to Montreal. "Specimens were collected, and it was realized what these individuals had was influenza," Ostroff said.
"The strains were then looked at in more detail here at the CDC in Atlanta and they were characterized as being the A Sydney." Since then, the CDC has discovered the strain in Southern California and parts of New York. Health officials in both states have reported more flu cases than usual. The CDC expects that more cases of the Sydney flu will surface as the season peaks at the end of January.

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