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Doctors: Flu cases in Michigan growing in number, severity

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Doctors say the number of flu cases in West Michigan is quickly growing, and many cases are considered severe.

Doctors say more younger, healthier people are falling ill this flu season, and emergency rooms are busy.

Now, area medical centers are taking precautions to combat the rapidly spreading virus.

Doctors at Bronson say they are well aware of what's going on with the flu this year.

At the beginning of the flu season, they started screening visitors, and also told those who were sick to stay home.

Borgess Medical Center as well is taking a few extra precautions.

The H1N1 virus, a pandemic strain, similar to the one in 2009, is now attacking the state of Michigan.

Borgess has a sign up at several entrances, warning visitors about the growing number of flu cases.

"This is serious and this is something that's preventable," said Dr. David Davenport, with Borgess Infection Prevention. "We don't want people to think influenza is necessarily always a mild disease and this year, we're seeing serious side effects."

Trying to stop the spread of flu, Borgess says visitors must now be 12 years old or older, except for siblings.

Visitors going to critical care units and the birthing center are reserved for immediate family members, and only two visitors are allowed for each patient.

With schools returning from an extended break, there's concern for students as well.

Portage schools told parents to send in sanitary wipes this school year.

The district also encourages kids to wipe down the chairs and keyboards, and of course, wash their hands.

Now, younger, healthier adults with no risk factors are now getting sick.

"It looks like the strain that was present in 2009 that gives more severe symptoms, a higher rate of hospitalization, and does effect young people who don't normally expect to be infected," Dr. Davenport said.

Once again, doctors say they're seeing more people in the emergency room and critical care units.

The best advice they have is to get a flu shot.

Last year, Michigan ranked at the bottom for vaccination rates.