Flu season to last even longer than usual, doctors say

ATLANTA — Doctors saw this flu season start early and now say it’ll stay longer.

Dr. Andi Shane with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said you do not need a flu test in an emergency room to figure it out if you have the flu. She wants people to stay calm. The first stop should always be your pediatrician and if after hours, urgent care.

“If a child is not able to keep fluids down and is having problems with vomiting or diarrhea, that is probably something that needs to go to the urgent care center,” Shane said.


She urges families to avoid the emergency department unless symptoms are severe, like difficulty breathing.

“If their nose, the nares on the side of their nose are flaring, if they’re pulling here to breathe and if they’re pulling here in the chest, if you can see their ribs as they’re taking in breaths, those are indications that they’re having difficulty breathing,” Shane said.

“So if they’re dehydrated and having trouble with their respiratory effort, those are the two reasons why most children are brought into the hospital,” Shane said.

An underutilized resource is your doctor’s helpline. CHOA has a 24-hour one too. Shane said these help keep you out of the ER and potentially safer.

“Being in the emergency department in a crowded setting probably means that you have the potential to be exposed to other people,” Shane said.

Shane also stressed getting the flu shot because she sees this season lasting through April.

A map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed currently 49 of 50 states are seeing widespread flu activity. This year’s flu season began a couple weeks earlier than anticipated, which allowed it more time to spread.

“What we classically see are A’s peaking in December, January and early February then we see a decline in the A’s and a peak in the B’s in February and late March,” Shane said.

But Shane said she expects this turbulent flu season to last through April and believes you can still benefit from a flu shot now to protect yourself.

Shane said RSV, which is a respiratory infection in kids around two years and younger, is also making the rounds, as is the common cold. Se said get the flu shot and knock one of those bad illnesses off the list for yourself and family.