Flu Update

Influenza (“The Flu”) has started to hit Memphis over the past few weeks.  We are certainly not seeing epidemic type numbers, but we are seeing a few cases each day in the office. 

Remember that the flu is an illness usually characterized by high fever, headache, body aches, and cough.  It usually lasts 3-5 days and untreated can easily result in a full week lost from school or work.  Secondary infections like ear infections and pneumonia are common near the end of the course of the illness.  These complications can lengthen the duration of the illness and can also result in hospitalization.

There are some common misunderstandings about influenza.  It is not primarily a gastrointestinal illness.  Sometimes a patient may have some vomiting associated with the other flu symptoms.  But, an illness that is primarily causing vomiting and diarrhea without very high fever is likely another virus and not truly influenza.  Sometimes people will refer to other winter colds as “the flu” as well.  Although these other upper respiratory viruses can cause illness, they are usually not as severe as is influenza.

If the flu is diagnosed early (within 48 hours of onset), there is treatment available that may shorten the duration of the symptoms.  If you think that your child has flu type symptoms, please call for an appointment.  If your child has had the flu and you think he may be developing a secondary infection, he should also be seen.  Signs of a secondary infection include a new fever, worsening cough, or difficulty breathing.

It’s not too late for the flu vaccine!  If your child has not yet been immunized, please call the office to arrange a quick appointment with the nurse.  So far, the primary strain reported by the CDC is the 2009 H1N1 strain.  This strain is included in the flu vaccine this year.

As the season goes on, you can refer to the CDC’s weekly influenza report map that shows influenza activity by state.