What’s Going Around: Local doctors seeing increases in flu, respiratory illnesses

Here’s our weekly round-up of what illnesses are spreading the most in Metro Detroit communities, according to our local doctors and hospitals.

Local doctors share their notes on What’s Going Around:

Wayne County: Stomach viruses, COVID, asthma flare-ups, sore throats, sinus infections, bronchitis

Dr. Jennifer Stevenson -- Emergency Department at Henry Ford Medical Center Fairlane

“We’re seeing a TON of viral gastroenteritis. Folks can potentially prevent this by doing a good job of washing their hands and being mindful of interacting with others when they’re sick. We’re still seeing some COVID-19 and we continue seeing vulnerable patients requiring admission. We can all help by testing when we have symptoms and limiting exposure to others when we’re sick. We can all promote health by washing our hands, staying well hydrated, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy sleep pattern, and eating a balanced diet. Here’s hoping we’ll see a decrease in viral infections as the temperatures rise and we all get outdoors again.”

Dr. Jennifer Stephens-Hoyer -- Emergency Department at Henry Ford Medical Center Plymouth

“In the emergency room we are seeing an increase in asthma and reactive airway exacerbations due to weather fluctuations and respiratory infections. I would expect that trend to continue for the short term given the season. Working with a primary care doctor, and sometimes a pulmonologist or allergist, can help reduce the number of exacerbations for patients with the appropriate base medication regimen and reduction of controllable triggers.”

Oakland County: Stomach viruses, respiratory viruses, influenza, COVID, pink eye, ear infections

Dr. Sanford Vieder -- Chairman and Medical Director of Emergency Trauma Center at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills

“I’m happy to report that COVID continues to be on the decline, although certainly still present to some minimal extent, with hospitalized patients. We continue to see a pretty steady amount of other viral infections but not specifically influenza. Over the past few weeks, we have continued to see an increase in the number of slip and fall incidents, which have led to a multitude of broken bones. It’s critical that patients remain mindful about the frequent inconsistencies of our weather and ambient temperatures that allow snow to melt during the day, causing icing at night, resulting in these frequent falls. As our weather will begin to warm, and hopefully spring will begin to arrive soon, now would be a great time to check with your physician if you require any treatment for anticipated seasonal allergy issues, as these typically increase through the months of April and May. Finally, behavioral health issues remain consistently high.”

Dr. Whitney Minnock -- Chief of Pediatrics, Emergency Center at Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak

“In the past week or two we have seen several GI viruses with waxing and waning symptoms, respiratory viruses, some RSV and COVID, very little influenza and some strep cases. Whenever weather patterns change, we see asthma flare ups as well and that has been the case the past week. With the snow, we did see several sledding injuries. With so many unseasonable but changing weather patterns, not sure if sledding will be a thing for much longer. But if it is – and for next year – I do recommend wearing a helmet down the bigger hills, avoiding other sledders and busy areas and making sure to sled down a clear path. Several sports are in full swing and we have seen a lot of orthopedic injuries from hockey and other indoor sports.”

Washtenaw County: Respiratory viruses, influenza, human metapneumovirus, COVID

Dr. Marisa Louie -- Medical Director of Children’s Emergency Services at Michigan Medicine

“We have been seeing a bit more respiratory viruses including some influenza, human metapneumovirus (very similar to RSV), that are usually declining this time of year. Still also seeing more patients with increased suicidality, eating disorders, behavioral disorders. Otherwise it’s been a pretty good mix.”

Dr. Brad Uren -- Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Michigan Medicine

“Still a few respiratory illnesses on the adult side. Rare GI symptoms this week. Occasional COVID. Not much flu.”

Washtenaw County Health Department

Influenza cases in Washtenaw County are currently at low levels; however, influenza A continues to circulate locally. Additional flu waves are possible. Flu-related hospitalizations of Washtenaw residents are currently at low levels. Influenza-related deaths in Washtenaw County adults have been reported this flu season. All individuals were confirmed with influenza A. Most influenza cases being reported in Washtenaw County are influenza A (both A/H3 and A/H1N1).”

Macomb County: COVID, influenza, strep throat, viral illnesses, sinus infections, pneumonia

Dr. Parag Patel -- Corewell Health family medicine doctor at Beaumont Health offices in Sterling Heights and Macomb Township

Dr. Patel said his practice is seeing a “small kickback” in COVID, and he often recommends those with symptoms take Paxlovid. He also said that many patients report mild COVID symptoms, and often report they had much worse symptoms when they had COVID earlier in the pandemic.

“Key is not just assuming it’s a cold. People can have pretty mild symptoms and be contagious. It’s reasonable to be vigilant about testing, even if the symptoms are not very strong. I don’t blame people, because they don’t feel that sick. It’s helpful for your physician if you’ve tested before you come in, then it helps direct me in how we need to treat.” 

As far as other non-COVID things going around: “We’re seeing influenza as well. And we’re still seeing strep and normal seasonal viruses leading to sinus or upper respiratory infections. And this does happen at the end of the cold and flu season: a sprinkling of things going on. Hopefully in the next month we’ll see things clear out. Usually the weather gets better, people get outdoors more than indoors. We typically see cold and flu season last until the end of March or middle of April.”

Dr. Michael Kitto -- Emergency physician at McLaren Macomb

“A week after a small spike in gastroenteritis, cases have tapered off significantly this week. Slippery winter conditions are still resulting in many orthopedic injuries, mainly in seniors, treated in the trauma center. Viral upper respiratory infections, with symptoms of cough, fever and congestion, have continued to taper off.”

Monroe County: Did not report this week

Livingston County: Gastrointestinal illnesses, respiratory viruses, strep throat

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.