Baltimore metro hospitals are seeing a notable uptick in the number of patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Dr. Jeff Sternlicht, chairman of emergency medicine at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, said the emergency room at the Towson hospital is having its most hectic season since the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.
"It's definitely more widespread than it has been in recent years," Sternlicht said.
Greater Baltimore Medical Center emergency medicine team has treated an average of approximately 30 patients a day throughout the month of December, according to figures provided by hospital officials.
Sternlicht noted that there isn't a specific cause directly contributing to the spike in cases.
"It's the nature of the illness—some years are worse than others," he said.
Baltimore Medstar Hospitals, which include Union Memorial Hospital and Franklin Square Medical Center, are also seeing an increase in patients visiting emergency rooms complaining about flu symptoms.
"It's been very, very busy," said Debra Schindler, a regional director of public relations for Medstar.
Schindler said Union Memorial in Charles Village has seen an approximate average of 50 patients a day with flu-like symptoms, and Franklin Square in Rosedale—one of the busiest in the region—has had a five to 10 percent increase in patients since Christmas.
Sternlicht said those planning to visit emergency rooms at regional hospitals should plan for longer wait times. He advises those affected with flu-like symptoms to consult the primary physicians first, if possible.