Influenza outbreak has pediatric ER full, schools on high alert

Whether it’s person to person contact or touching something as simple as a shopping cart, desk or door knob children can catch the flu and quickly spread the virus unknowingly.

Posted: Jan. 15, 2018 8:26 PM
Updated: Jan. 15, 2018 11:31 PM

The outbreak of influenza now has hospital emergency rooms filled and local schools on high alert.

Dr. John Boulet, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children pediatric ER specialist, told WAAY 31 they’re seeing a major uptick in flu cases among children this year and it doesn't seem to be slowing down.  

Doctors with Huntsville Hospital Health System have been working feverishly to treat as many children as quickly as possible.

“To be honest sometimes the delays get to be a little bit. A couple hours here and there, especially in the evening time when people begin to realize that the youngster is not feeling well,” Boulet said.

Boulet expressed that it's not just schools in which children become exposed to the virus.

“If the youngster is out in public say at a store like Walmart, Publix or whatever and touches inanimate surfaces, the parents should be aware that these inanimate surfaces can carry the flu virus in a viable form,” Boulet said.

Boulet told WAAY 31 a child touching something as simple as a shopping cart, desk or door knob can just as easily spread the virus as having direct contact with someone with the flu.

“It might seem a little paranoid, but at this time of year you should consider everyone you see, whether they look well or not, to be potentially carrying the flu virus and act accordingly,” Boulet said.

Doctors told WAAY 31 that in most cases influenza is benign and children with minor symptoms like coughing, sneezing, aches and fever can recover at home on their own.  Children, however, with preexisting medical conditions such as seizures should avoid taking the anti-virus medication Tamiflu, because it can affect their neurological system.  If your child exhibits rapid breathing, dehydration, unable to take in fluids or vomiting, doctors recommend you seek treatment right away.

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