Flu on decline: Virus being replaced by stomach bug

The flu virus that has killed more than 40 people statewide since November appears to have leveled off and been replaced with a stomach bug that is now spreading, local health officials said.

In recent weeks, local health officials say they’ve seen fewer patients coming in with flu-like symptoms, including respiratory problems and a cough, and more patients coming in with norovirus symptoms, such as dehydration and vomiting.

Health officials say they are unsure if the flu is on the decline for good after hitting earlier and harder this season, but local hospitals no longer are seeing hundreds of patients with flu-like symptoms each week like they had been.

“I think, statistically, it’s dropping off a little bit. But I just don’t know. You have to take it a day at a time. It’ll be gone when it decides to go away,” county health officer Dr. Craig Moorman said.

The number of flu cases at Johnson Memorial Hospital has dropped by two-thirds in recent weeks, hospital director of business development Bill Oakes said.

And Community Hospital South has had a decrease from about 20 patients with flu-like symptoms per day at the beginning of January to about 13 a day now, infection prevention specialist Gayle Walsh said.

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