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March 1--  The emergency room patient load because of the flu is less than a few weeks ago at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, but it's still a menace according to Dr. Justin Osborne.

"We are through the peak but people shouldn't ignore the fact the flu season lasts till May, so we're not out of the woods yet.  This year there has definitely been a detrimental effect, not only in our community, but nationwide.

"It's been incredible the number of patients we've seen this winter.  The typical flu symptoms we see in most patients were to be expected, but the number of patients we saw who suffered from cardiac, respiratory and even neurological deficits was truly at an all time high and was unexpected," he said.

At this point, Dr. Osborne advises, "We do expect several more weeks of flu-related viral illnesses.  It's not too late to get your flu vaccine, especially if you're in a high risk population.  Otherwise, continue to take daily measures to prevent a flu-related illness and if you are diagnosed with influenza and your doctor recommends Tamaflu, please take it."