GREENSBURG (KDKA) — More people in Westmoreland County have been diagnosed with the flu so far this year than in all of last year.

Many of those patients, primarily the elderly, have found themselves in the hospital.

Dr. Heather Walker, an emergency room physician at Excela Health, says not all cases of the flu require a stay at the hospital. The hospitalizations are due mainly to complications from an underlying lung problem, respiratory complications from other medical problems or dehydration.

According to the health department, 87 people in Westmoreland County tested positive for the flu in all of last year’s flu season. Twenty-four of those people were treated by Excela Health in either the emergency room or as an inpatient.

This year, there have already been about 500 cases of the flu reported in Westmoreland County. Two hundred and seventy five of those patients have been treated at Excela; 79 have been admitted to the hospital.

The best way to combat the flu is to prevent it.

Excela Health urges its employees to get a flu shot and suggests that the public do the same.

Doctors say it is never too late to get a flu shot.

They say if you do get the flu and are not hospitalized, you should stay home from work or school. If you have a fever, you are contagious.

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