Local physicians say they’re seeing an increase in patients with flu symptoms as the season for the virus approaches its peak in February and March.

At Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center, emergency physician Edmond Noll said he’s seen more patients with symptoms such as a runny nose and cough this flu season compared to last, particularly in the hospital’s emergency room.

Other symptoms including a high fever, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

The flu season began in September and will drop off after March, Noll said.

“This is the worst time,” he added, and suggested that people wash their hands often, avoid sick people and stay home from work if they feel ill.

“Don’t touch your face,” he said. “Every time you’re touching your face or nose, you’re putting the virus in that area.”

At Glendale Adventist Medical Center, attending physician Anthony Cardillo said the hospital has seen a 25% to 30% rise in patients with flu-related illnesses.

“We have seen substantial volumes all throughout [Los Angeles] county,” he said.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu was widespread in California as of early this month, but it’s worse in Texas and the southern states.

“We may still see a surge in California and into the East Coast as well,” Cardillo said.

He also suggested getting vaccinated, limiting contact with large groups of people and avoiding locations such as shopping malls, if possible.

Meanwhile, visits to USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital’s emergency room increased about 16% from December to January, with a significant number of visitors reporting flu-like symptoms, according to spokeswoman Celine Petrossian.

According to a report released by the California Department of Public Health on Friday, the number of confirmed flu-related deaths across California has risen to 202, so far, nearly double last year’s total of 106.

Health officials said that Los Angeles County accounted for 33 of those deaths.

In Glendale schools, however, flu-related cases haven’t been abnormally high, according to Lynda Burlison, the district’s health services coordinator.

She said school-age children are typically healthy. But when it comes to children younger than 5 years old and seniors older than 65, they have a more difficult time with the flu, she added.

“So far, we have not been knocked out in the schools,” she said.

Even so, she said educators encourage students to stay at home if they’re not feeling well.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

Sara Cardine contributed to this report.


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