Flu B on the Rise at Cook Children’s
The pediatricians at Cook Children’s are prepared to be busy over the next couple of weeks and for good reason.
Once school was back from the Christmas break, kids returned to share their germs with one another. To make things worse, the brutally cold weather when they got back ensured that everyone stayed in an enclosed environment. All a perfect storm to see our flu numbers climb higher.
“We typically see an uptick in flu a couple of weeks after kids go back to school following the winter break,” said Jason Terk, M.D., a pediatrician at Cook Children’s in Keller. “Right now, we are seeing an increase in Flu B, but still see plenty of Flu A cases. Our patient volumes are still very high.”
Last week, 403 flu cases were confirmed at Cook Children’s, up from 345 the week prior. What makes this week different is the amount of Flu B cases seen. Last week saw 104 confirmed Flu B cases, up from 60 a week earlier.
“It’s expected that Flu B will follow or peak after Flu A, but it’s still earlier than expected this season,” said Morgan A. Pence, Ph.D., clinical microbiologist at Cook Children’s. “This is the earliest we’ve seen Flu B in the last four flu seasons and it looks like Flu A and B are overlapping more this year than in the past.”
The good news is that Flu B is usually less severe than Flu A. The bad news is it means a continuation of a flu season that is already looking to be the worst since the 2014-2015 season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the death of 30 children nationally as a result of the flu.The CDC stated that all U.S. States except Hawaii have reported widespread flu activity.
“It’s important for people to take care of themselves and others to prevent the spread of the flu as much as possible,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Disease. “The flu vaccine continues to be recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Make sure to practice washing your hands and please keep your children home if they are sick.”
Influenza, commonly known as "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. It affects all age groups, though kids tend to get it more often than adults.
In North Texas, Flu season runs from October to May, with most cases happening between late December and early March.
Along with the vaccine and flu antiviral drugs if prescribed by a doctor, the CDC recommends these everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.