There has been a recent spike in the number of patients suffering the effects of influenza in Garden City, according to health officials. The increase is in line with state and national reports of a spike in flu cases, which is being tallied by health surveillance centers.

Shawna Deal, Community Relations Coordinator of St. Catherine Hospital, confirmed there has been a recent spike in flu-related admissions at the hospital.

“When the community or the state has a rise in influenza, we always have a rise too,” she said.

Deal encourages the public to be vigilant about staying in if sick, and washing hands before eating or drinking anything to help prevent the spread of flu.

“They also need to eat right and stay warm,” she added.

The exact number of local admissions for influenza was not available at press time due to the holiday schedule, however, the Kansas Department of Health reports that 300 people have died of the flu since September, and there are reports around the state about flu cases inundating hospital emergency rooms.

The Kansas City Star reported 36 patients were admitted to the University of Kansas Hospital, and that 10 of its 28 hospitals were on diversion, meaning they had reached a maximum number of patients due to the flu outbreak.

State officials said the flu is spreading throughout Kansas.

“About 30 percent of all patients seen in our surveillance clinics are reporting influenza-like symptoms,” Aimee Rosenow, a public information officer at the KDHE said.

Rosenow stressed that the No. 1 recommendation for preventing the flu is for residents to take the flu shot.

It is not too late to get one, even though cases are starting to rise. Flu season generally lasts through February and cases can still occur as late as May.

Those most at risk for flu include people with underlying health conditions and those with immune-compromised systems. Symptoms of the flu include: a 100 degree or higher fever or feeling feverish, though not everyone with the flu has a fever; headaches or body aches; runny or stuffy nose; a cough or sore throat; chills nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children).

According to a Kansas Health Institute report, most of the flu cases were caused by a strain that the available vaccine does not protect against as well as it does against others. The shots can still prevent flu or lessen its severity, however, thus state officials are still encouraging people to get either the flu shot and nasal mist.

“Even though some circulating viruses may differ from the vaccine strain during the current season, influenza vaccination is still an important way to reduce the risk of serious complications and death,” state epidemiologist, Charlie Hunt was quoted as saying.

According to the CDC’s 2014-2015 Influenza Season Week 51 ending Dec. 20, Kansas was among 36 states where widespread influenza activity was reported.

The others include Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

“The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at the epidemic threshold,” the CDC report reads in part.

CDC has characterized 305 influenza A viruses, and 56 influenza B viruses collected by U.S. laboratories since October 1, 2014.

During the 51st week of the year, Puerto Rico and 22 U.S. states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin) experienced high influenza-like illnesses, according to the CDC.