SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We’re in the midst of one of the worst flu seasons in nearly a decade. It could also be the deadliest one ever for children according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC report is troubling. At least 37 children have died nationally from the flu including at least two in Pennsylvania. With the number of flu cases rising, parents are urged to lean on the side of caution when it comes to their kids’ health.
Children get their hands into just about everything. Lately, it’s contact with the flu. Debbie Clark, RN who works at Geisinger-CMC said, “The flu this year has been a problem for all age groups but in children they’re especially vulnerable under the age of five and even under the age of two moreso.”
Ms. Clark says children who get the flu struggle with the viral infection because their young bodies just can’t fight it as well as most of us. “Children often have weaker immune systems only because they haven’t been exposed to a lot of things.”
In the week ending January 27th, 2018 Pennsylvania officials say 9,000 more cases of the flu were diagnosed bringing this season’s total statewide to more than 35,000 – and counting. Acting Pennsylvania Health Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine said, “It is predominantly Influenza A and a sub-type called H3N2 which can cause particularly severe flu symptoms.”
Ms. Clark said flu symptoms that come on rapidly often means bad news for kids. “When they do become ill, a lot of kids can’t express what they’re actually feeling. So especially if they’re not verbal they might be cranky, they might be crying. Those kind of things.”
Kids with the flu should drink plenty of fluids, take antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and be given child pain relievers for muscle aches and fever. Medical experts say if your child is being treated for the flu, make sure they are fully recovered before they interact with other kids. They can still be contagious until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours.
While getting immediate treatment for children with the flu is vital, Ms. Clark has a message for families before kids are stricken ill. “If the child can receive a vaccine that they should still be getting it.”
It’s also important to note that some bacterial diseases like strep throat or pneumonia can mimic the flu virus. If your child’s breathing, fever, headache and sore throat seem to be worsening, get medial attention immediately.