Flu outbreak confirmed at Yakima retirement center

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A retirement center in Yakima is taking action after people there have been getting sick. They've been coming down with symptoms similar to the stomach flu. It's been bad enough to send some of them to the hospital.

Orchard Park management said the virus started hitting people at the retirement center Sunday. More than 100 live there, but it's not clear how many have gotten sick. A spokesperson said some have been treated at the hospital.

More flu cases are showing up around Yakima County in what's been a milder season than last year. Cases for H1N1 peaked in late December and January, but have been subsiding. However, more traditional flu cases started climbing in February. Outbreaks like the one at the retirement center are always a concern.

"More people get it, more get circulated, and more people are vulnerable exposed to it," said Yakima Regional Medical Center Internal Medicine Physician Qilin Lu.

Lu said he's seeing more flu cases.

"Is it safe to say the flu problem here in Yakima is getting worse?" KIMA asked.

"I think it's just this is a special year. That we've seen the virus is a little bit more resistant to the vaccine," said Lu.

Despite that resistance, health officials still push to get more people vaccinated.

As for Orchard Park, it has taken steps to keep the virus from spreading any further. Those include closing the dining room, as well as disinfecting the kitchen and common areas.

Orchard Park management told KIMA the families of the people who've gotten sick have been notified. Regular checks are being done on everyone in the building. And, the facility is keeping the Yakima Health District in the loop on the developments.