Pneumonia Cases Up in Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - As we move into flu season, medical experts say you should also beware of pneumonia. A local clinic wants to spread awareness about the potentially deadly infection. 

MedExpress in Fayetteville says they are seeing a record number of pneumonia cases and with two months left in the year, doctors expect that number to continue rising. 

"One of the leading causes of death in flu season is pneumonia related to flu," says Dr. Lynette Morrison, a physician at MedExpress. 

"Pneumonia could be bacterial, it could be viral, it could be fungal and all of those require different treatments," Morrison explained.

She says pneumonia is extremely contagious. It's an infection in the lungs that can compromise the immune system.

"When you talk to somebody, when you touch the counter, you can spread it that way...also by sharing drinks, sharing silverware, taking a bite of someone's food, kissing," Morrison said.

According to the CDC, a third of hospitalizations in the U.S. start with walking pneumonia.  

"When you have walking pneumonia, you're also at risk of developing other infections, like the flu, like strep throat because your immune system is weakened so it puts yourself at risk and it also puts everybody else at risk because they can catch that from you," Morrison explained.  

Morrison says they have already seen more cases this year than what they saw for all of 2016. Her biggest concern is that the last two months of the year are where they typically see a spike.

She added that Fayetteville's large population of college students is likely driving up the number of cases in the area. 

"A lot of college students live in dorms or live in apartments with several roommates, those are really great places to spread germs," Morrison said. 

But these germs won't just stay on the U of A campus.

"Being out and about in the community, anywhere you can spread these germs," Morrison advised. 

Morrison said the best way to prevent getting pneumonia or the flu is to wash your hands regularly and get a flu shot. 

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