As flu cases in metro Atlanta continue to rise, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said Monday it is swamped.
Doctors in the emergency departments of Children’s branches across the area said they are seeing one-and-a-half to two times the normal number of children with flu or flu-like illnesses.
At Children’s Healthcare at Scottish Rite in Sandy Springs, Dr. James Fortenberry also told Channel 2’s Diana Davis many of the kids being brought into the ER don’t actually need hospital treatment.
Fortenberry said only about 25 percent of the kids coming in actually have the flu. About 60 percent have other viral respiratory illnesses.
“Most of the children who are having cold and flu-like symptoms are actually (suffering from) a different virus. We have three different viruses that now the flu has come on top of that, and that’s what made our numbers jump,” he said.
Since flu and those other illnesses, including the common cold, are viruses, antibiotics don't help. That’s why Children’s urges parents of children with typical cold and flu symptoms not to bring them into the hospital.
“Most children with the flu are best served by being at home, getting lots of fluids, rest, a little chicken soup, a little tender loving care from mom and dad,” said Fortenberry.
Influenza symptoms can include a sudden fever, headache, runny nose, dry cough, sore throat in some cases, and especially with kids, vomiting and diarrhea.
According to Children’s, signs that you need to take your child to a doctor include worsening fatigue, confusion or headaches that don’t go away, persistent cough or vomiting, neck stiffness, chest pain, breathing difficulty and severe muscle pain.
Besides staying away from sick people and washing your hands, doctors believe this year’s flu shot is the best bet to protect your kids and yourself from getting sick.
“It’s very effective this year. It’s the right match for the flu strain that’s out there,” said Fortenberry.
He said anyone with the flu should stay away from work or school, and any child over 6 months old should get a flu shot.