Medical clinics inundated as flu, air pollution invade W. Wash.

TACOMA, Wash. - A one-two medical punch is taking its toll on patients and doctors in Pierce County and across the state - bad air quality and a severe flu outbreak.

According to the state Department of Health, the latest statistics show that more people are catching and spreading the flu throughout Washington state.

A lot more are just feeling awful - whether from the flu or another one of the bugs that are making the rounds.

"I think that I had the flu because I threw up," says Kenny Deal of Tacoma.

While Deal was not officially diagnosed with the flu, he's one of thousands of Washingtonians suffering from illness.

The most recent information from the state Department of Health blames flu-like sicknesses for 420 emergency room visits in Western Washington alone during a one-week period.

"The shaking, chills, sweats, achy bones, achy body - that's what we experienced with my grandson," says Karima Alladin of Tacoma.

She thinks she was able able to stave it off because she was proactive.

"I got the flu shot right away - as soon as I heard there was an outbreak," says Alladin. "I heard so many people were getting it."

According to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, so many people were sick with flu symptoms recently that two Pierce County hospitals reached their capacity for new admissions.

"From all the news reports ... it's almost an epidemic throughout the whole country," says Jim Deal of Tacoma.

And if it seems like something "is in the air".... it gets worse. The air itself is bad in some places.

"People who have asthma, difficulty breathing, heart and lung problems could very well see a difference in their condition, could be downgraded right now," says Joanne Todd of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

The agency says the air is stagnant and has declared burn bans in Western Washington.

When it comes to being sick - the only option for Karima Alladin's grandson was to wait it out.

"Give him a lot of love ... and chicken soup," she says.

The latest health statistics show that 12 people have died of the flu statewide since September.