Chicago area hospitals overwhelmed with flu patients

There is a major outbreak of the flu virus both nationally and here in the Chicago area.

All the coughing, fever and sore throats -- hallmarks of the dreaded flu -- are putting a major strain on local hospitals.

“We're seeing very sick patients coming to the hospital in large numbers,” said Dr. Anthony Marinelli of West Suburban Medical Center.

Dr. Anthony Marinelli says they've seen a major spike in influenza cases. It's so overwhelmed the community hospital that they've gone on bypass at times -- that means they tell ambulances to bypass this ER and find another.

“In a flu epidemic, so many patients can get the flu it's going to strain medical resources which is why you're asking the public only go to the hospital if you're having severe symptoms. Can't eat, can't drink, can't breathe, those kind of symptoms,” Dr. Marinelli said.

To slow the outbreak, there are new visitor restrictions.

-no one under 16 is admitted.
-only two visitors per patients.
-no one allowed with flu symptoms.
-and those with a cough must wear a mask.

Doctors still urge everyone to get the flu shot, and if you do get sick, stay home. 

Even emergency rooms don't want to see you, unless you're in truly bad shape.

We have new numbers about flu cases at the west suburban hospital. There have been 113 so far. Compare that to just 29 in all of last season, and the flu season doesn't usually peak until February.